U15s - Tadley Tigers Tamed 20-12
US Portsmouth 20-12 Tadley Tigers
After heavy rain and gales overnight the teams were greeted with sunny windy conditions for this fixture. US were playing at home at Temeraire so the heavy rain had no effect on their 4G pitch and it was always likely to be a fast, open game.
At the end of last season US narrowly beat Tadley Tigers in the final of the Hampshire Cup Bowl Competition, so pitch side punditry on the likely winner was evenly split given the closeness of the match last time.
From the off it looked like a contest between the strength and size of Tadley against the speed and handling skills of US. Both teams started with intensity. Tadley were on the attack almost immediately moving purposefully up the pitch with some determined running. US soaked up quite a bit of pressure with some solid consistent tackling throughout the team. US Coach Sam commented that the US had greatly improved their defence in the few weeks he’d been away - and sure enough hit after hit went in, with great line speed and commitment in defence.
Halfway through the first half US started to see more of the ball and to work forward. After some solid play in the rucks their backline were finally set free. Some superb straight running tested Tadley as US crossed twice in the corners with near identical runs.
As US went into half-time 10-0 up in the real question was how well would Tadley respond. Tadley started the second half brightly and this time with some direct running and better support they scored their first try. US had got a little bit ragged and perhaps were not supporting as well as they had at the start of the match. The try against seemed to wake up US a little and galvanised them back into action - having soaked up a lot of pressure they finally got onto the front foot and scored a couple of minutes later with solid team effort and a forwards’ try driving over to restore their advantage at 15-5.
Tadley clearly weren’t done yet as they increased their intensity and started to support each other better. US defended well, holding up a forwards’ charge on the try line, but eventually the strength and size of Tadley’s runners told as they crossed the score under the posts. It was a tricky, windy day for kicking so it was a good conversion even in front of the posts - with 10 minutes to go US narrowly led 15-12. In the final few minutes a tiring Tadley were turned over by more direct running and better support from US to put the contest beyond reach at 20-12.
It was a tight, intense game, with both teams determined to win. The difference between the two teams was probably the sheer amount of US Portsmouth tackling and possibly slightly better support play. US Portsmouth have some players who are either new to rugby or to the team (or both) who shone with some superb running, heavy tackling and consistent support play. These players can only improve as the season goes on.
Overall the match was played in good spirit and no doubt both teams will be even more determined next time they meet in the New Year.
Next week (16th December) we are training at Temeraire from 11am so if you would like to try playing rugby with United Services Portsmouth then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our club is friendly, inclusive and open to all.