With seven players away on duty with county and/or Saracens a friendly against Chess Valley was a real test of squad depth and an opportunity for players within the team to take a step up in responsibility.
As has often become the way, the first 15 minutes saw Camelot under a lot of pressure, adjusting to different positions and having to work as a unit to keep Chess Valley away from the try line. At times the defending was awesome, Tommy leading the way with some ferocious defence, well-supported by the rest of the team that were quick to follow his lead.
Early doors, too often the boys were working really hard to win back possession, only to lose it cheaply with a misplaced pass or lost possession in a ruck...but they learned from the errors, adapted and played their way into the game.
The breakthrough came following a brilliant kick through from Danny, putting the full-back under pressure in his own twenty-two. His kicked clearance was half charged down by Jack, the ball breaking loose on the ground ready for Tom Ashton to show some football skills with a deft boot across field. Tommy was first onto the ball and set off for the line, fending off defenders on his way to opening the scoring. Danny slotted the conversion over. 7-0.
The lead didn’t last long. The kick-off was dropped, immediately piling on the pressure and after some battling defence the opposition found the smallest of gaps under the post. An easy conversion, 7-7.
Undeterred the boys in blue and white were straight back into the game, pulling together as a team and starting to enjoy some good possession, building the pressure. From a ruck 15-metres out Terence plucked the ball out of the back, had a quick look around and opted to run through a gap in the defence to score between the sticks. Tommy kicks the conversion and Camelot lead 14-7 at the break.
Early into the second period Chess Valley were back on the attack, testing the hosts’ defence. Despite gallant efforts and last ditch tackles they eventually bundled the ball over out wide...Crucially the conversion fell short, and Camelot maintained the slenderest of leads. 14-12.
The game was played in good spirits, but mid-way through the second-half Camelot took a couple of knocks as first Ben went off with a knee injury, shortly followed by Andrew with a shoulder injury. With only one sub available Chess Valley loaned a player for the final minutes of the match.
Having absorbed much second-half pressure Camelot always looked the favourites to get the next score. A lengthy penalty kick from Danny set-up a line-out five metres out, the driving maul almost reached the line before being stopped just short.
Another set piece lead to the final try of the match, Connor pulled the ball out of the back of the scrum, spotting Terence’s run with the perfect pass for Terence to run home his second try of the match. Tommy again converted and the lead was an unassailable 21-12.
A hard-working display that demonstrated the strength in depth the squad now has, today’s team collectively taking the responsibility to keep the winning start to the season going and wearing the blue shirt with pride. A different test today, but another one passed with flying colours by this ever-impressive group of young men.
FT: Camelot 21-12 Chess Valley
Tries: Tommy, Terence 2
Cons: Danny, Tommy 2