Cold Wet and Windy with Tottonians
The inclement weather took any opportunity to shine.
Tottonians joined us on the 3GR for a match on a windy wet December Sunday. They had 17 players who had travelled from a 35 man squad, and US with a few injuries managed to have 23 players available, following a great curry night the previous evening. Andrew seemed to be struggling with a possible dodgy poppadum
The kick off was dropped, preventing us from using our kick off return moves. Without the basics, we cannot develop, though the ball was slippery. Despite that a hook against the head had Bailey on the front foot making ground. The lineout offered Didz the opportunity to kick to the corner allowing Ed and Justin to apply pressure to their wing and fullback and with a turnover at the ruck, delivery to 10 and an inside pop to Nick running a good line to open the defence and score under the posts. Didz added the 2. This control, kicking and pressure game was a simple but very effective one...
So why change? When the kick off was fumbled we panicked and passed when we should have set up a ruck. Then we lost our shape and control of the game, there were few runners off the 10 and we turned our winning formula into a wrestling match. This played into the hands of the larger, stronger, less mobile opposition. Delivery was slow away from the loose, we were competing at rucks that we were never going to win. We did not have guards in play, or too far away and Tottonians rightly came back at us and scored following 7 consecutive penalties - but no yellow cards...
Time to regroup, with a chat under the posts from Nick and a decent kick off, Harry got the opportunity to use his height and basketball skills to gain control of the ball and sidestep the opposition defence to score. When we did spread the ball we made good ground with Luke running very straight and Ed bringing good pace, and whenever we kept it tight we were wrestled off the ball, though we did get the upper hand in the lose towards the end of the match. Nick added another try as a carbon copy of the first, running off a short ball and James Lilley also broke a few tackles and with strong running and a final sidestep of the 15, he hit the line to score.
The summary of the game from the referee and the opposition coaches was simple:
We wrestled when we are a smaller more mobile team, giving Tottonians the opportunity to stay in the game, though when we did go through the moves, we were a good side to watch and a difficult side to play against and stop.
We got 23 players on the pitch and largely kept our shape with this high turnover of players. We started to work on replacements at the various key positions that we are one deep, and we also kept our heads when faced with significant aggravation, so all in all a good but cold day at the office, well done lads.