Surfacing bleary eyed after a great night the U9 Tourists spit in to their 3 teams and took to the pitches at North Bristol to do battle against 2 squads (North Bristol RFC and Kingswood RFC). They put in a great performance.
Bournville Bears - Coached by Jon (P3.5 W3.5 L0)
As the team gathered at the start of the morning they must have had a quiet word with each other and agreed that this was going to be the day that they were going to start to put in to practice all that they have learnt since Christmas. Or maybe they were just too tired to think much and as a result their natural un-coached talent guided their play!
Whatever it was though the team were a revelation winning all of their games in commanding fashion (so much so that we forgot to keep a close note of the score!).
Starting out against Kingswood the team were quickly into their stride, running hard and direct and tackling aggressively. Their defensive lines were almost perfect with players quick to fan out across the pitch and limit Kingswood’s options and when we had the ball they were similarly alert to the fact that they did not need to cluster around the ball, instead spreading out and even on occasion taking those crucial steps backwards to enable them to run on to the ball from depth. Our fast and elusive runners (Matt H, Mason and Ollie M-P) were a real handful and when tackled they were usually able to off load to well-placed support runners. It was a great start to the morning and set us up well.
The 2nd game against North Bristol was a tighter affair where we discovered that more aggressive runners were a little more of a daunting prospect when looking to tackle them. Bristol took the game to us in the first half and matched us try for try but during the half time talk it was obvious that the team knew what they needed to do and really upped their tackling, turning over the ball more regularly and at the same time scoring whenever we had the ball. Thomas U and Charlie M showed up well in the 2nd half with some great offloads out of contact. We came away with a convincing win due to the 2nd half domination.
The 3rd game against Kingswood was another strong performance once the team got to grips with a particularly elusive and aggressive runner that the opposition had. They learnt to tackle that little lower (and under the hand-off!) and once they did so they were able to dominate in attack. As in all of the games all of our players seemed to be able to break tackles and make the right pass at the right time.
We then played the first half of a “Final Game of the Tour” against another Kingswood team before handing over responsibility for the 2nd half to Tim’s squad. The team was absolutely back to its best with a swarming “take no prisoners” style of defence which prevented the opposition ever getting started. Again they fanned out in defence as we would like and although they perhaps benefitted from some generous refereeing of the offside line they mainly stayed legal and caused Kingswood no end of trouble (although Kingswood remains a game team who never gave up trying and kept the ball alive impressively). Will T finished the tour in style with a well taken length of the pitch score.
All in all it was a very satisfactory morning’s efforts. And not least because of the spirit that the games were played in. All players from all teams gave their all, tackling aggressively but fairly and bouncing back to their feet quickly after some sometimes fearsome clashes. All players were a credit to their clubs.
Amelie, Charlie, Freddie, Harry, Joseph, Matt, Mason, Ollie M-P, Thomas U, Will T
Player of the day :
In a performance like this it is perhaps wrong to pick out one specific player. Matt H ran some great lines (which was something of a miracle given that without the ball in his hands his “injury” meant that he could barely walk apparently). Mason though was a real star though never shirking a tackle against bigger players and seemingly impossible to tackle.
Bournville Rangers - Coached by Rich V and Ian (P3 W3 L0)
It was quite evident that the late night partying had not just taken its toll on the coaches as the players were quite slow to get going. The first half against Bristol was a fairly unimaginative affair with the team not really moving the ball away from the contact area, taking the ball statically and consequently struggling to make their six tackles count. Defensively we were made to look good with a large number of handling errors by Bristol gifting us the ball back. 1 each at half time was a reasonable reflection of things to that point.
With the dust blown off a very different team appeared on the pitch. A real intensity in defence started to yield turnover ball and as the hands got warmer we started to see more offloads and passing. With this we started to see players running on to the ball (Seb and Rohan) stretching the defence and sure enough gaps started to appear as did the tries. We finished a very respectable 5:3 winners.
Our second match was against the second Bristol team. They brought some tough direct running to they game but Bournville stepped up with a great defensive effort. Time and again we would make our six tackles and turn them over. Once we had ball in hand it was a fantastic brand of running rugby that we were treated to. At each tackle the players were stepping back and spreading out allowing us to get width on the ball. The nominated scrum half tactic appears to have helped achieve this as well as speeding up the movement of the ball from the breakdown. This meant the opposition defence was unable to get organised and they started to leak tries. We had Freddie and William running good lines, committing defenders and passing keeping a relentless continuity that was too much for Bristol. Alex delivered some killer offloads as well as a fantastically clever pass to put Jacob over in the corner. We came off the pitch 6:3 winners (I think. Ian?)
After sitting out the next round of matches we finally got back on to have a crack at Kingsbury. By this point the team were thoroughly fired up. The defensive effort by everyone was huge. Max started the day by telling me it was too cold to tackle. By the end of the day he was throwing himself at anything that moved. Will V was hunting anything in a blue striped shirt and put in a nice try saving tackle in the corner. Kiyan was running some nice lines and covered a lot of yards. Archie was consistently strong throughout the whole morning with great hands, super pace and getting stuck in to his tackling. Jacob continued to do what he had been doing all morning, tackling hard and then carving up their defence. Bloodied and bruised he was my player of the day with Max the most improved. The team finally came away 7:2 winners (I think, Ian?). Simply unbeatable with a defensive line that was just too hard to crack. Great team effort. Bring on the festivals.
Bournville Lions - Coached by Tim and Alfred (P3.5 W3.5 L0)
Rory M, Max P, James, Alex B, Elliot Christo, Tom H, Rhys, (There is someone's missing here - sorry memory is not what it used to be!)
This team put in three very strong performances in both attack and defence.
In the first game against a big Kingswood side, the opposition (and coaches and crowd alike) were surprised by the ferocity of the defence. At one stage in 6 tackles they were pushed back from virtually the Bournville try line to their own line. Strong running from Elliot and Alex put the opposition under pressure with tries coming a plenty with great pace from Rory and Tom. Highlight of the match was Elliot taking the ball from a good support line and using his size to break tackles only to do a dainty side step to beat the last man.
In the second game after some defensive lapses leading to going two scores down, the team started to fire again, turning over ball, tackling and running hard. What really impressed was the team effort especially in attack where Max and Christo always ran hard in support and kept the ball alive with good handling. Alex and Elliot again ran hard strong lines, Rhys upped the ante with some big tackles and James showed awareness passing out of the tackle. A moment that epitomised the sprit and effort of the team was when Alex went on a great break but was felled by a legitimate heavy tackle which obviously hurt him. He nevertheless held on to the ball and laid it back for his team who recycled the ball quickly and scored. Champagne moment when Tom sold an outrageous dummy that fooled everyone to dart down the touch line to score.
By the last game the team were on fire, keeping their line in defence, pushing up together to win turnovers. There was some sublime running again and North Bristol, a good well coached side struggled to cope. Elliot and Alex continued to run hard, as did Rhys, James, Max and Christo ran tirelessly in support, Rory and Tom ran elusively at speed. The best moment was when Christou broke from a turnover, engineered from Rhys's tackle, James ran well in support and passed the ball to Tom who arced round to be caught by the last tackler, off loaded to Rory on his shoulder in support who scorched down the touch line to great applause from all watching.
In all a terrific days effort with three convincing wins. Every single player played exceptionally well, but most importantly played as a team helping their mates with smiles all morning!
Fantastic rugby a pleasure to watch!
A great tour, some great fun and obviously a great morning on the pitches. Well done everyone.