Today was a day when everything came together brilliantly. We played fantastically as a team and it is fair to say that no-one had a bad game. Everyone contributed superbly and the crucial thing is that the effort everyone put in was in support of the team as a whole. It was that team effort that made a very successful overall performance, and that allowed us to dominate Stafford. We played two games, winning both comfortably and without a single try being scored against us. It is invidious to pick out individuals on a day when the team performed so well, and we should all, each and every one of us, be proud of what we achieved today, but I will mention a few people. Ethan Giles had his first game for Wolverhampton today and played brilliantly, setting up one try and scoring another. Jake returned to the excellent form that he has shown in the past, both with his uncompromising tackling and with incisive running with the ball. Olly was a powerhouse at scrum-half, making a huge impact in the tackle and in the rucks and mauls. Finn impressed with his running and tackling, but also with some crucial offloads including a vital scoring pass to Ethan Cole. Joe and Harry T were both busy round the pitch doing work that often goes unnoticed, catching the ball, making the pass and so on, and Morgan did his usual job of competent hooking and tidying up in the loose. All the others played well too. I am sorry I cannot run through the individual contribution of each and every player, but the key thing today was not the individual, it was the team. As a result we have won two games handsomely, with an aggregate score of 9 tries to nil.
Stafford kicked off but regained possession quickly. Ethan C and Stephen put in two good tackles and the ball went loose. Jake made a good pickup, and we strung together a couple of phases of possession. After winning a scrum we ran the ball out of defence with the ball passing through several pairs of hands before Finn was caught just short of the Stafford line. We won the ruck and Finn popped up again breaking for the line before making a perfectly timed pass to Ethan C which put him away for a try. Charlie gathered from the kick off and made some ground before being tackled, with Olly following up superbly to hit the ruck with pace and power. Possession changed hands a couple of times before Stafford finally came away with it but Laurence and Stephen both put in excellent tackles and the ball went into touch. We won the line out and passed the ball well along the line, Finn and Stephen both went close to scoring before Stafford turned possession over, only to be hit by a series of excellent tackles by Jake, Olly and Finn. We won possession back and the ball was moved down the back line across to the right then back to the left before Ethan C went over for our second try. From kick off we enjoyed a period of sustained pressure with drives by Jake, Stephen and Olly, each time superbly supported by others hitting the rucks and mauls with real intent, so that we relentlessly advanced up the pitch. Stafford eventually had a line out near their own try line but the ball went loose and Martin pounced to collect the loose ball and score. The half finished with us leading by 3-0.
We kicked off the second half and followed up well to win possession back immediately. There was some good team play featuring Charlie, Finn and Josh T. Stafford won a scrum but Martin put in a ferocious tackle to win a scrum near the Stafford line. We won the scrum and Olly put Stephen away to dart over for the first try of the half. Stafford then took a quick kick off, but we were alert with Josh A gathering and running it back at them, only for Stafford to be awarded a penalty. This began a period of sustained pressure by Stafford, which we defended superbly, before turning over possession and Stephen putting in an excellent clearing kick. Stafford ran it straight back although we continued to defend well, achieved a turnover and passed the ball quickly into space, releasing Ethan C to make a brilliant, scything run for the final try of the game. The final score was 5-0 to Wolverhampton.
Stafford kicked off and Ethan Giles, making his debut for Wolverhampton, made a good catch and set off forwards. Having made good ground he put in a well-timed pass to Laurence who powered forwards to score an excellent try. What an impact on debut, although there was more to follow. From kick off Stafford were awarded a scrum which we won against the head. Finn made a break and Jake took it forwards before possession was lost and Stafford made a clearance kick which Harry T collected and initiated a counter attack, which ended in Finn diving over for our second try. Following kick off there were a couple of scrums, with Wolverhampton coming away with the ball, with Finn passing it out to Stephen, then to Tom in a bit of space who beat one player and was making good ground before being called back for a forward pass. After a scrum and a lineout, with Stafford still under pressure, they kicked it to clear. Joe made an excellent catch to set up another counter attack. Stafford were awarded another scrum, which we again won against the head, setting us up to break out from defence through Josh A, Finn, Sam and Laurence. Eventually Stafford won a scrum and kicked to touch to end the half with Wolverhampton 2-0 in the lead.
We kicked off the second half, and Stafford ran it back but ran it into touch. We won the lineout and attacked through Olly, Sam and Jake, who made a lovely half break, beating one player before getting the ball away to Ethan C, who cut back inside and made a huge amount of ground before going into touch. From the lineout there was a ruck which we won, and Joe (who is always an effective operator at the base of the ruck) got the ball away to Jake, who broke forward before making a brilliant offload to Ethan Giles to dive over for a try on his debut. Excellent play by both. From kick off we made good progress up the pitch, with good play by Jake, Ethan G and Hamza, only to lose the ball on the Stafford try line, allowing Stafford to kick it clear, but we were then to win a scrum, and Olly got it away to Sam who passed it to Ethan C who went over for a try to make it 4-0 to Wolverhampton. Stafford kicked off deep and Jake gathered and set off on a decent run before offloading to Martin, who made ground and passed to Ethan G who stormed forward only to be called back for a hand-off. There was time for Joe to do some excellent work and get the ball away to Sam, then to Ethan C who was tackled high, before the match finished at 4-0 to Wolverhampton.
We can take many positives from today. Playing as a team at a high intensity brings most satisfying results. We rucked and mauled superbly. We defended aggressively and tackled like demons. We passed brilliantly. The end result was that we had two great wins. For everyone that scored there was someone who made a crucial pass to them to send them away. For every time the backs set off to pass the ball away into space, the forwards had scrummaged, or rucked or mauled brilliantly. Our overall team effort left everyone feeling exhilarated with the way we played and the result that it brought. There remain areas that we could still improve on, however. Quite often we got the ball down the back line, but failed to make the final pass to the outside player in space. Sometimes that didn’t matter, but sometimes the move broke down and we lost a try scoring opportunity. Overall, however it was a really good performance bringing a really good result. Well done all.