Semi-final success for Blackburn U14s
By John O'Ryan
Tight scoreline hides Burn boys superb performance
It's been a while since we ventured to Vale, Connie was dazzling the Lunies with her phenom footwork back then, and before that we had many a happy day spent in the tent at festival time. In the 3 or so years since, what would have become of them, how would we cope with a complete unknown team to us? More importantly, which Blackburn team would show up today, the world beaters or the clanger droppers that we had seen for the last two games?
Before the game the message was pretty clear, our passing accuracy had to be completely on point today, the panic button left behind in the changing rooms, and, just as importantly, discipline had to be 100% improved. After 50 minutes of hard rugby, an honest appraisal would have to be that the first two points were spot on. Dropped passes? I cannot remember one. Mad moments? Karate Kid in the second half restart apart, nope! The third? A neutral observer or anyone who looked at the stats from the game would probably say we were as bad if not worse today than our pretty horrendous last two displays when it came to giving penalties away. Harry reckoned about 7 penalties for offside alone in the first half, while high tackles would take us to double figures. Backchat cost us 30m at least as the ref simply turned his back on this and marched us back. Despite all that, your reporter here would maintain that we held our discipline pretty well. When penalties were (inevitably) awarded, the team turned a moved into defence well, and coped with the rush that followed very well, more often than not turning over ball. So while penalties hurt, as long as the scoreboard keeps ticking over our way, we can cope - it's not a disaster, regroup and start again. Much more importantly was the fact that our self discipline and support for each other completely changed. For the first time in ages, I can not remember a single moan or bitch from any of our players to each other or at our own cockups, which are usually misinterpreted as a bitch against a team mate. Every breakdown, every tackle and even every huddle while Lune took their conversions, was a sensible, heads up, look forward, go get them, can do, will do, positivity fest.
Game wise, the lads today took it to Vale as a team. The forwards were awesome, our best rucking and counter rucking display of this year by a country mile. Support play was very good, no silly turnovers where players were isolated. Tough to single anyone out but Jayden continues to impress with his support lines, taking one sweet particular off load from Tobi before punching a great big Jayden shaped hole in the Vale defence. Harry G, relentless, hungry leading by example, hacking on loose ball for a good 40 m at one point, who knew the boy had football skills (never again). Scrums were solid, line outs were too, pressure on Vale from all 10 forwards immense. All of which created on hell of a platform for one hell of a backline. The old adage that forwards win games, backs by how much was never more true than today. To be honest there would not be many u15s sides that would cope with the running strength of Jacob, Arthur and Theo today. The Ivan turns up and decides to be a tackling god??? Jacob put two pies under the posts, while Arthur just sliced through the Vale D like a hot knife through marge, all of which Tom F knocked over with aplomb. Theo's monster conversion for our second try was the difference score wise at the end.
The biggest take away, and the focus for this weeks training and development has to be the recognition that we have a backline that can go and finish tries off. Getting the ball to these strike runners has to be our priority, and today we had the platform to sit back and make it happen. Whenever we win good possession anywhere on the pitch, I believe these boys can bust holes, while kicking it only gives us a poxy 20% chance of getting it back and denies us our most potent weapon. Forwards are more than welcome to carry, especially Tobi, Jayden and Michael, who draw defenders in to make our backline that space. Just don't loose it.
Rochdale's narrow loss to Collegiate today (8-7) gives us food for thought. Dan has already posted me his thoughts for next weekend, while we all know our narrow loss to Rochdale last weekend and earlier in the Cup were, well, uncharacteristic. So a chance therefore, Collegiate may well have had boys missing today on school trips / holidays etc so not too much to be read into that result, more importantly we look to our strengths, hit training hard this week together on Wednesday night and whatever else you might get up to yourselves during his week off, just make sure you don't get hurt, please!!