Ays win to secure place in Plate final
A mature, patient performance
Ever since these two sides first met, back in the days of mini rugby, encounters have always been fairly played out, by two sets of boys who love their rugby. Today's match lived up to that expectation, producing a contest of exciting, very fast rugby that was great fun to play and hugely enjoyable to watch.
A strong wind greeted both teams but straight from the kick-off, Ays gathered the ball cleanly (for once!) and quickly got into their rhythm of play. Marlow offered a very strong and well organised D, opting at first not to challenge at the breakdown. Ays thankfully read this and changed their game a bit forcing Marlow to start to commit numbers, and gaps started to appear after a few phases. Play was camped in the Marlow half but a combination of mistimed passes and lack of scanning meant that for all the pressure, Ays had yet to trouble the score board. As is often the case in these scenarios, it was somehow inevitable that, with their first entry into Ays 22m zone, Marlow executed a well organised strike move off a lineout that saw their winger get the ball down in the far corner for an unexpected but well taken try (0-5).
Ays responded magnificantly, working the ball around the pitch, drawing out the D until eventually Ay's backs shoulders were on outside of the Marlow D, going at pace and heading for the corner. Kristian powered himself up to the line where a heroic tackle so him brought down. Such was the pace of the move that he was still sliding along the ground as he reached out to touch the ball down for what was thought to be an excellently taken try. Unfortunately for Ays, the referee had spotted an infringement and the try was disallowed.
Unbowed by this, Ays kept up the pressure and relentless possession from the forwards saw Ays camped in the Marlow 22. Resolute defence was eventually worn down though, giving George a simple touch down in the corner, to level the scores (5-5). The rest of the first half played out in much the same way, with Ays on top territoriality, but Marlow putting up a resolute defence and counter attacking.
The second-half followed much the same pattern as the first. Ay's were trying to get quicker ball out to their backs, and the forwards were attacking a bit wider. As a result, the Marlow D got stretched more and gaps started to open up, resulting in number of line breaks from Ethan, Morgan, Tom G and George P. In the backs, with the wind in their favour, some neat kicking from Doff helped to keep the Marlow back 3 on their toes, and some great clearing out work by both sides saw lots of counter attacking rugby. Eventually, the pressure told and having thrown pretty much everything bar the kitchen sink at the Marlow D, George B managed to step his opposite man and then be driven into the base of the post to score and convert - James Haskell take note. (12-5)
With patience being the key, it was so pleasing to see the boys not go "off script", and so more pressure from the forwards saw Ethan set off on a run from the half-way line. With steam coming out of his ears, Matthew glided up on the outside to create a 2-on-1. However, there was only ever going to be one outcome and Ethan steamrollered into very brave defence from the Marlow full back(?), who managed to bring him to the ground, but a marker had been set and what followed had a sense of inevitability to it. Clealry giddy from running in open space (too much oxygen perhaps?), Ethan went on another powerful run this time getting over the line to score a well taken forward's try. Unfortunately the Marlow 10 took a nasty blow to the head, colliding with two players whilst attempting a tackle and had to leave the pitch. He had a very good game up to that point, and we wish him a speedy recovery.
Marlow then had their best spell of the game, with their never-say-die defence putting Ays onto the back foot for a bit. Ays need to just hold on to the ball and slow the game down, and reassert their control. With time running out, Ays once again made their way into the Marlow 22, and worked the ball out wide to Litto, who had a lot of work to do. He managed to cut back inside and from the ensuing ruck, a series of pick and goes from the forward saw them slowly nudge closer and closer to the line, until Morgan got bored with all that nonsense and decided to wrap the game up by powering over the line to score a well taken try. (24-5)
Overall this was a very powerful performance by Ays, showing they can grind teams down as well as play their normal brand of effervescent entertaining rugby. There were no poor performances and in terms of the overall skills required to secure this win, this was arguably Ays best all-round performance to date. The result sees Ays into the Plate final, where they will defend their title.