TREDS - in action
a good contest, and moving in the right direction
This was the first time these two sides had played each other, and despite the long journey, the game was full of positives for both teams and plenty of talking points to discuss on the journey home.
Aylesbury, already depleted through injury, illness and unavailability, suffered a further blow when during the warm-up full-back Ben felt ill and very sensibly withdrew himself. Get well soon Ben, we miss you. With limited positional resources available on the bench, the re-jig impacted both forwards and backs, with a number of players changing roles. Thankfully, our ethos over the years of "you're a rugby player first, a particular position second", meant the boys were both willing and able to accommodate the changes.
Ay's got off to a superb start,playing the way we train for the first time this season, and walking in 3 tries in the first ten minutes as Grove had no answer to the overlaps being created. Despite being considerably out-sized by the Grove forwards, Ays pack were utterly dominant in scrums, lineouts and hugely effective at the breakdown - further evidence of how rugby skill can outplay rugby brawn. Such a rapid start, however,led to a bit of complacency and rather than going for the jugular, Ay's took their foot of the gas (how many cliches?) and allowed Grove to stay in the game physically and mentally. This lack of ruthlessness is understandable with this team, as it was only really last season that they physically caught teams up, and so just lack the experience of being in these situations. Out wide, the dominant scrum and lineout platforms, allowed the backs to attack from set piece and it was really encouraging to see the successful transfer of strike moves from training to match-day.
As the game progressed Ays discipline, quite literally, slipped up. Two yellow cards put the team under unnecessary pressure and simple collective laziness let Grove through for two simple tries from penalties. Despite the huge amount of work in training, defensive resetting remains an issue - this isn't a case of the boys not being able to do it, but more one of taking individual responsibility and ensuring you, as a player, deliver to the necessary standards. All of this is easily and quickly fixable.
Perhaps the most enduring and indeed endearing aspect of the match was how at mid-week training after the match so many of our boys were speaking so highly of Grove, their sportmanship, their welcoming nature as hosts and just how much they enjoyed the spirit the match was played in. It shows how relevant TREDS is when this is what the boys were talking about, not the fact they won.