Report by Bucks Reporter Rob Nesbitt...
On a fine afternoon, much more spring-like than of late, this eagerly anticipated match took place at Broadstreet RFC, Coventry. A close game was expected and that was exactly what was provided. Both teams contributed to a wonderful encounter that served up high intensity and even higher quality rugby with the final result in doubt until almost the last play!
Silhillians kicked-off the game playing into a slight breeze and Eddie Nicholls launched a kick from the base of the ruck that followed, which was chased superbly, forcing the Silhillians defence to concede a line out in their own “22”. The line out was well secured and the ball transferred swiftly through the backs hands where the attack was halted by good defensive tackling. From these early exchanges it was obvious that both teams were very focussed and had ambition to impose themselves on the game.
Play remained in Silhillians’ half for much of the first 5 minutes or so and it was not until then that the Bucks had to demonstrate their own defensive attributes following a threatening break after around 6 minutes. There were some bone-crunching tackles being made and the rucks and mauls were fiercely competitive!
The game, for the next 15 minutes or so remained in the middle of the pitch with both sides effectively cancelling each other out though. The first score of the game followed shortly after this. It came from a penalty for Silhillians after 23 minutes (Burton Bucks 0-3 Silhillians).
From the re-start it was back to the fierce but fair competitive encounter with neither side able to dominate for too long. The Bucks however then sprang into life as a result of a superb break by centre Alex Nesbitt who took play from the his own 10 metre line to almost into the Silhillians “22” where panic had set into the opposition defence and they conceded a penalty. Unfortunately the kick went just to the right of the posts so the chance to level the scores was not taken. However to their great credit the Bucks started to enjoy some sustained pressure in the Silhillians “22” and it was not long before a further penalty opportunity presented itself. This time Frank Simpson made no mistake and the scores were levelled (Burton Bucks 3-3 Silhillians).
The next few minutes of the game turned out to be highly influential on the eventual outcome of the match. Silhillians were reduced to 14 players following a dangerous tackle on Will Roden Just before half-time Bucks again came under attack and they had full-back Tom Hamlet to thank for an excellent covering tackle that stemmed the flow of a second really threatening Silhillians attack. In the resulting ruck, it was the Bucks who were deemed to have infringed and a penalty was awarded against them. The kick was again successful (Burton Bucks 3-6 Silhillians) and just before the half-time whistle was blown by the referee the Bucks back row Jacob Kitchen was forced off the field with a serious looking knee injury. His replacement T J Ward carried on his great work in the rucks and mauls as well as ferocious tackling.
At half-time more of the same was asked for by the coaching team along with a little more composure and patience in building the patterns of play, which would lead to the creation of more space for our backs to exploit – something that neither side had experienced in abundance!
The Bucks kicked-off the second-half and immediately signalled their intent to take the game to Silhillians. This was a key period of the game and a number of “after-match” talking points occurred. Firstly Alex Nesbitt went over the try line in the left corner to the delight of all the Burton supporters and parents only to have the score ruled out by the touch judge for a knock-on. Despite this the Bucks were now enjoying one of their best spells of the game and maintained pressure deep in Silhillians’ territory with some excellent work from forwards and backs alike.
The next key moment came after around 15 minutes of the half with the Bucks still deep in the Silhillians’ half. A loose clearance kick was well fielded by Frank Simpson on the “22” metre line and he then proceeded to cleverly break through the defence to score a great try under the posts to which he then added the conversion to put the Bucks into the lead for the first time in the game (Burton Bucks 10-6 Silhillians).
From the re-start it was then Silhillians who hit back hard and it was only a couple of minutes or so later when they regained the lead - following a charged down kick, the ball was moved wide very quickly and the Bucks defence was beaten far on the right hand wing. The conversion attempt was successful and the lead changed hands again in favour of Silhillians (Burton Bucks 10-13 Silhillians).
As in many games this season the Bucks again showed tremendous courage and strength in this type of situation. They again began to mount pressure on the opposition building steadily and moving ever closer to the Silhillians’ try line. Their endeavours were rewarded after 23 minutes through yet another superb forward move – a line-out 5 metres from the opposition line was well taken by Ben Wileman and a driving maul took the ball over the line for Christian Todaro to score a well deserved try. Frank Simpson added a difficult conversion (Burton Bucks 17-13 Silhillians).
The Bucks tails were well and truly up now and it was not long before they were in the opposition “22” yet again. Then came a utterly decisive moment when under constant pressure from the Bucks the Silhillians fly-half produced the “field kick of the century” to take play from deep in his own “22” to just inside the Bucks “22”. This seemed to transform the momentum of the game completely and the Bucks found themselves hanging on to their lead. With just under two minutes to go to full-time Silhillians launched a final attack which again found space wide on the right and the final score was made with a try in the right corner. Although the conversion was unsuccessful the lead had changed again in favour of Silhillians (Burton Bucks 17-18 Silhillians).
There were only a matter of seconds left following the re-start and the referees’ final whistle signalled the end of the game to the huge disappointment of all Bucks, players, coaches, parents and supporters. This disappointment was only with the final score and not with the performance of the whole squad, all of whom should hold their heads high with pride following their achievements this season. The lads will learn from this and come back even stronger next season I am sure.
The man-of-the-match, chosen by the Silhillians’ coaches was Alex Nesbitt.