The pressure was on – Heworth away. There were 11 aside with the weight, height and bulk average strongly in favour of the home side.
What would the U9s react like to their toughest opposition to date.
Not very well; if the first ten minutes had anything to go by.
Heworth led from the start – running aggressive straight lines, tackling the bulldogs and bossing territory so that we literally gained little or no ground.
The parents and coaches alike shouted from the sidelines to “wake up - run straight – head downs – tackle hard”. It was the look the parents were giving each other that told a story – one of which we were not familiar with.
Four tries down and no answers to be found. The majority of the bulldogs had a look of panic on their faces. The bulldogs put the tackles in but it was the attacking drives that didn’t go quite to plan. Heworths defensive line was solid and forced Wetherby to make silly errors; knock ons and running into touch!
Then, as with many a match before, it was one thing that suddenly changed the attitude of the team and put a bit of belief back into the side – it was Oli F. On a defensive set – Oli F put in a smashing tackle, driving back their enormous number 5. He was huge but the tackle was bigger! Fantastic Ol and great support from Conor. Then in ran their biggest player number 13 – Alex first man in got body slammed but the difference was that Jay, Sam and Oli F. backed up Alex and the number 13 on this occasion was stopped in his tracks. Mackenzie, Lewis and Oli S. all put in some good tackles but Heworth were just quicker, sharper and off loaded very well. This was a great defensive set.
Harry, Sam and William took the ball well making good ground for Jay to come bursting through to score Wetherbys’ first try. It was a well-deserved try for Jay and the team – certainly a settler for all concerned!
Wetherby defended well at the next 6 – Conor, Sam, Jay, Harry, William, Alex, Mackenzie and the two Oli’s all tackled collectively very well forcing Heworth to knock on. Both teams then had mistakes, which cost them possession, but it was Conor who put some hope back into the score line when he scored a brilliant individual try. It wasn’t an easy try either, lots of stepping, hand offs and a great dive over the white wash to make the score line 4 tries to 2.
Oli F all fired up tackled Heworth heart on sleeve. Dan got knocked on his bottom (best place for him after today’s performance!), Max and the team all tried hard to keep Heworth from scoring another try but it was their skilful half back who popped up a lovely ball to the number 6 who scored another try, one of his 5 of the day.
At the next attacking Bulldogs set, Wetherby did really well. Every single player on the pitch had their hands on the ball – there were great drives by Oli S, William, Sam, Jay and Conor – lovely linking passes by Oli F, Harry, Dan and Mackenzie – Heworth did very well to hold out the try – especially as Conor, Jay, Kenz and Oli F threw everything at them.
Just before the half time whistle – Jay forced Heworth to make an error – crucial timing. Turnover ball. ‘Hair Flicker’ Lewis bossed the team, passing good ball to Conor – no ground made – brilliant defence by Heworth. Lewis then passed to Mackenzie who jinked his way up the pitch gaining good territory. This gave Jay great opportunity to plough up the field towards the try line. Sam 3rd run in did well not to loose the ball as he had two players smash him to the ground. Oli F in a well-worked run used Dan to off load onto. Dan was legged up and stopped in his tracks. Conor on sniffing the try line – barged over to score a great try – Well done Bulldogs. 5 tries 3 to Heworth at the half time whistle.
In the second half – Wetherby did much better. There was more purpose & belief to the game from Wetherby. The score line in the second half was a draw – a dead heat - 2 try’s a piece.
There were a few players who still looked fazed throughout the match but overall Wetherby picked themselves up after the first ten minutes of the match. Conor scored another great try in the 2nd half making his personal total to 3 for the day. It was also good to see Mackenzie scoring the last try of the game with some fancy footwork!
Heworth were a well-organised, well-drilled team with a dominant acting half and forwards to be reckoned with. One team who we look forward to playing again in the future – where hopefully all our players stand up and play as well as they can, without being outfaced mentally before the game has started, and play as well as they did during the last three quarters of the match. Overall a great game – which showed great character of the team to come back from 4 tries down ,to a 7 try’s to 5 loss final score line. Well-done boys.
Man of the Match - Conor