Eighteen months with barely any rugby and a new squad thrown together as last year’s Under 16’s joined the remaining Colts after the older age group have moved on, a friendly against Welwyn was all about blowing away the cobwebs, getting some much overdue match practice and start the bonding process for a new team.
In truth, it soon became like they had never been away. Yes, some of the players can now drive themselves to games and there are a few more beards and 6-packs on show, but the ability to sling an egg-shaped ball around and out-battle the opposition was very much still in evidence.
With both sides only having fifteen players available it was agreed to play the match over three 15-minute periods to ease everyone back into action. Not that Tommy need easing in, less than a minute into the game and he was back with a massive hit that laid down the foundations for the rest of the match.
The first score came early on, and it went the way of Camelot. A penalty kick to touch had the distance, but not the accuracy as the Welwyn defence gathered the ball five metres in from the touchline. But the Camelot chase was quick, immediately putting the defender under pressure, a turnover, and Caolan was quick to spot a hole in the defence and drive over.
James Norman completed the conversion. 7-0.
For the remainder of the first period it was Welwyn that dominated territory and possession, but constantly found themselves banging against a blue brick wall that had no intention of letting anyone through. If anything, Welwyn had the better of the early scrums, but Camelot ruled the rucks and seemed to be able to turn the ball over with relative ease…but with the kick clearances not always getting the distance or accuracy, the ball kept making its way back into the Camelot twenty-two.
Having seen out the first period with solid defence, the new look Camelot Colts used the second period to add more possession to their armoury as the game started to become a bit feisty with the challenges flying in. After a couple of rounds of handbags, it was perhaps inevitable that the next try would be scored by Tommy, using his strength to power through a gap that didn’t seem to exist to ground the ball just over the line. Norman was again immaculate with the conversion and Camelot led 14-0.
Despite only being a friendly there was a liveliness about the action with every challenge seemingly followed by a niggly confrontation which was testing the patience of the referee. It was Welwyn who received the first yellow card of the season after one too many arguments with the referee and Camelot wasted to time in making their numerical advantage count as they began to dominate the game.
Soon after it was Camelot who were punished for talking back to the referee, a Welwyn penalty being moved forward ten metres enabling them to launch their own attack deep into the Camelot half. However, any hope they had of getting onto the scoresheet did not take into account the ability of James Norman to turn defence into attack with a sidestep and a sprint. A strong scrum, Caolan pops it out to Rocket Norman and he is off, nobody is going to catch him as he sprints down the wing before cutting in to score under the posts and leave himself with an easy conversion to make the score 21-0 at the end of the second period.
Welwyn will have been frustrated to have not scored any points by this stage having enjoyed much possession and competed well across the field, but never really looked like breaking the Camelot defence. Eventually they began to tire and found themselves frantically defending their tryline. As the penalty count built-up it was Caolan who finished the scoring with a quick tap and go to secure his second score of the game and set James Norman up for his fourth successive conversion to complete an excellent start to the season.
Camelot finished the match with 14 men as Tommy picked up a last minute yellow card, but after 18 long months it was a welcome return for everyone and a superb warm-up for the season ahead.
FT: Welwyn 0-28 Camelot
Tries: Caolan 2, Thomas, James N