Toughest most physical game of the season so far!
Park were ready for battle, so we thought!
After a very positive warm up Park were ready for battle, so we thought! The worst start we could have wished for, the first try conceded, we were missing the one up tackles, and Newcastle who to be fair were a big physical side throughout their team were dominating the ruck area. Then Park broke through the line passing the ball well, Alvaro now in possession of the ball and powering through but got held up and a try went begging. Then after a good counter attack by Newcastle try number two scored, then after silly mistakes and decisions by Park try number three scored.
We were all in disbelieve and shell shocked but this was the time for the captain and other senior players to step up, and we did - Lucas as captain, with the encouragement from Archie and Alvaro rallied the troops and rather than folding, the team spirit came to the fore, and within minutes Park came alive. Harrison from deep and a dazzling solo run to score our first try. Then after a long kick off and a great chase by Park, Newcastle were trying to run the ball from their 22 line. Lucas was waiting for the opportunity, and that opportunity presented itself and he intercepted a long pass to score try number 2 – game on!
A good kick off deep and to the right by Archie, and an excellent chase, Alvaro managed to turn the ball over after a good counter ruck, he started his gallop but after a strong tackle was tackled into touch. A free pass to Newcastle, using their biggest players to make ground, but we were now much more dominant in the ruck, turn over ball, quick pick up at the base of the ruck and a strong run forward by Archie to score try number 3. The whistle blew for the end of the first twenty minute session.
After a positive team talk made by the players and the coaches providing reminders about one up tackles, body positions and what our game plan was the second session started. Our defence was immediately under pressure but held strong, another powerful run by Alvaro to score – brilliant! We were now making more frequent substitutions due to various injuries as the battle continued. Then as these substitutions were made, the team lost its shape and Newcastle after a strong run outside scored their try. Then another strong run by Alvaro after some good rucking by Park to score. Then Harrison receiving an injury was temporarily brought off and Liam moved to full back in which he thrived. Like Harrison - good under the high ball and became more involved in the game by strong running and fantastic one up tackles. Harrison returned to the game and almost immediately set off on another strong run, he made his way from the left side touch line to the far right touch line, and his long stride and pace he managed to step in and score his second try of the morning – Newcastle 4 v WP 5. A penalty to Newcastle and again using their strong aggressive runners, JJP made a good covering tackle to hold up the player until Park arrived and once again the defence held up but only for a short time and Newcastle scored. The next restart by Archie was not long enough or high enough and after a good catch by Newcastle the ball was in the hands of one of their strongest runners, and after good organised rucking Newcastle moved the ball to score. But we continued in the same vein and received a KO - a good catch by Liam, who was really positive in his lines of running, good support in the ruck by Tom, quick ball by Will and Alvaro to score. The second session ended all poised – Newcastle 6 v WP 6
The players were reminded to move the ball into space to move the bigger Newcastle players around the field more, we looked fitter than Newcastle and we were ready to go.
Newcastle were getting tired and began to lie on the ball in the rucks, penalty against them. Park from the right side try line, called the 'china ball', this was the highlight and the best try of the morning, the ball was passed from the ruck down the back line, players running straight and hard, Lucas found himself with the ball 5 meters out to score. Newcastle reacted very well, and we needed to respond, not just from the usual players but from the whole team to maintain our slender lead. Unfortunately this did not happen and a couple of silly mistakes and decisions were made, mainly by running the ball back into traffic and into Newcastle strong forwards, the ball needed to be moved away from that contact area. Newcastle seized the opportunity and smothered the ball, turn over, ruck after ruck, our defence was now being tested, and after at least two minutes of play Newcastle scored.
The last five minutes, Newcastle had the ascendancy and had much of possession, then a great tackle by Liam, knock on by Newcastle, scrum down Park ball on the 22. In the depths of this set piece, Newcastle managed to win the scrum, the first one against the head all morning and in fact of the season, quick ball and Newcastle scored. Newcastle 8 v Park 7.
We received a KO, a great catch by Liam, last play of the morning by Park to level the score, we moved the ball down the line trying to identify the space but Newcastle were not going to allow us to have their way. Their defence remained strong, and after a ruck which we had won, the referee gave Newcastle a penalty, this was quickly taken, then a forward pass seen by the crowd but not by the referee and Newcastle to score.
Final score Newcastle 9 v WP 7. A disappointing end to the toughest most physical game of the season so far, we conceded some easy tries after not making those one 2 one tackles and not being efficient in the ruck area, that said the team overall responded well in response to the early tries conceded. The learning from this morning is the mental aspect is as important as the physical and our lapse in concentration at the start of the game was our undoing.
Well done to Newcastle and we look forward to hosting them at WP next year.
The MoM was a difficult decision this week, Alvaro, Lucas, Harrison, Will and Archie were in contention, but the player that stood out slightly more was Liam – so well done.
Tries scored by:
- Archie -1
- Lucas – 2
- Harrison - 2
- Alvaro – 2