The decision to play smaller teams of 5 or 6 instantly meant that there was more space on the pitch, more opportunity to pass cleanly and less fighting for the ball. This resulted in some great rugby with all the teams running on to the ball with pace and showing how far they have progressed since the early matches in the season. But we came up against an Old Yards team who were strong in the tackle and had 1 devastating runner and some very useful supporting players. They deservedly took the victory (5 games played with 2 wins for Old Yards, 1 for Bournville and 2 draws) but our teams can be very pleased with their efforts (their coaches are).
The Bears – coached by James (match report by James)
Once the team understood the tactical changes required because the coaches had been giving them the wrong information about the first receiving player needing to be stationary they never looked back.
5 players on the side gave The Bears plenty of space and opportunity to showcase their running skills. Matt H in particular was running through the opposition like a hot knife through butter. Rory C had some extremely direct runs and was always looking around for support to successfully offload the ball in contact. Will T provided excellent support to the attacking runners and was always available in support. Seb and Rhys provided superb defense by covering the width of the pitch to prevent opposition runners breaking through, often driving them back in the tackle.
The Rangers – coached by Rich V (match report by Rich V)
After a sequence of good results against the other Bournville sides in which the quality of rugby was as high as I have seen all season, we finally got to play a rather useful Old Yards side.
The Rangers had started to master the concept of running onto the second pass at pace and running direct lines to commit the defence in numbers. As usual the likes of Jacob and Alex demonstrated a big appetite for this work and were highly effective. On those few occasions they failed to break through, they had sucked the defence in opening things up out wide. The support play was if the usual high standard with good simple offloads by most (Alex....) and good hands which resulted in no knock ons or careless turnover despite cold fingers and high winds. Amelie and Harry particularly impressed in this area allowing continuity of play and opening up the wide channels for the flyers.
The defensive work continues to improve across the board but Freddie particularly impressed with a high work rate and multiple tackles. The surprise package of the day was Kiyan who delivered a mix of incisive running, some great handling and some important tackles. His all round performance gets him my man of the match but it was a close.
The match itself was a very close run thing and we were rather unlucky to see Old Yards score a last gasp try to allow them to claw back a 5-5 draw from a match in which we were on the front foot for most of it. The discipline was excellent and as a coach I was very proud of the way the Rangers played as a team.
The Bulldogs – coached by Ian (match report by Ian)
We had a difficult task given the relative inexperience of the team. However to their utmost credit they kept pressing and trying to make inroads into a well drilled and strong running Yardley team.
Tom picked some excellent running lines and if it wasn’t for some really strong defending would have scored at a crucial time but alas it wasn’t to be. Despite illness, Charlie made a couple of useful line breaks but there always seemed to be a green and claret shirt there to hold up the momentum. Callum graced a rugby field for the first time and despite his American football scoring technique, shows some real promise and an enormous amount of enthusiasm.
Whilst the result was disappointing, there was plenty on show which suggests we are really making strong progress.
Star man – Thomas U
The All Blacks – coached by Alfred (match report by Alfred)
I was very impressed with some of the running and ball handling from the self styled Bournville All Blacks with some very incisive darts and good tries from Juhjar – when his father finally returned with his gum shield - and from Christo.
In fact the team was awash with good runners with some real quality from Rory, who led the charge in sucking in the defence and releasing the ball before the tackle was called and from Mason and Oli who are always a delight to see slicing through the defence.
Despite looking the better team with this attacking flair, we only managed to hold Old Yards to a draw due to lapsed concentration and missed tackles. Rory was quick to appreciate this and manfully held the opposition attackers in subsequent games but even he ran out of steam against The Bears in the last game. We did however initially match them try for try with some good running from deep by Eddie, (he had been doing this all morning) before releasing players outside him to score! In fact there was some excellent play at this level, from the All Blacks by using the open spaces to their advantage and letting the ball do the work to allow team mates to run in unopposed – well done Mason and Oli in particular!
The Rovers - coached by Jon (match report by Jon)
The Rovers played their hearts out all morning but unfortunately for them the crucial pass never quite went to hand and they couldn’t quite make the last important tackle. They also lost one of their most potent attacking weapons early in the morning when Archie went off injured.
However they did not let themselves down.
There was some great running from ‘twinkle-toes’ Sam and ‘get out of my way’ Jack but too often they found themselves being pushed back in the tackle and could never get on the front foot. However this particular coach was very impressed with Alex F who clearly took onboard my encouragement to stand firm in the tackle rather than skip backwards away from support (as was becoming a team trait). He even took ‘counter-mauling’ towards the end of the morning with one team try coming from the fact that that he drove again in the tackle, allowed his team to rearrange behind him and then put Ryan in to space to score in the corned.
Against Old Yards some crunching (and almost high) tackling took them by surprise and knocked their confidence and then Old Yard’s 2 standout players proved to be too much to handle. But the team kept going and deserved their celebrations when they crashed over for a consolation score.
Player of the day – Sam.
A great morning which was certainly enjoyed by the coaches which is definitely a good sign given that we 'lost'!