In rugby you always know that if you can stay in contention until the final whistle, keep the deficit to less than seven points, even when the clock ticks into the red when you are defending on the edge of your try line…anything can still happen. This victory for Camelot Under 16’s proved that theory in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Early in the game there was no sign of the drama to come. The pitch was heavy and at times it showed that the boys had not played a match for a few weeks, but Camelot were dominating play, never looking threatened at the back and enjoying some good possession. It felt like only a matter of time until they scored, and it eventually came when James Norman caught a defensive clearance well and set off on a speedy run, fending off one defender before flipping the ball out to Connor out wide who showed great pace to score in the corner. 5-0.
The conversion drifted just wide, but that wouldn’t really matter…would it?
The game was far from free-flowing with a few errors slipping in and decision-making proving key, but if you had a fiver in your back pocket you would have put all your money on Camelot being the next to score and increase their lead; but you would have lost your money.
Out of nowhere a Harpenden player broke the line, brushed aside a couple of attempted tackles and scored with ease under the post. Crucially, it set up an easy conversion and Harpenden led 7-5 going into the break.
Despite being behind you always felt that Camelot had more tries in them and would be able to turn the game around, after all, they had dominated territory and possession in the first-half.
However, it was in fact Harpenden that started the livelier and threatened to increase their lead further. Some frantic defending on their own five metre line by the boys in blue and white kept a Harpenden attack at bay with pressure eventually eased by an interception and quick break.
Although rarely threatening you always felt that Camelot would score again, but as time ticked by the nerves kicked in as 15 minutes to go became ten minutes, five minutes, three minutes…the tension on the pitch threatened to boil over at times.
Into the final seconds and Harpenden clear their lines with a monstrous kick that bounces out deep into the Camelot twenty-two, surely game over? A knock-on in the line-out gives Camelot a put-in at the scrum, but with the clock in the red it seemed little more than a chance to prevent the final deficit being any greater. No room for error. Any stoppage to the play and that would be it, the final whistle.
A typically strong scrum and the ball is quickly shifted out of the back. A couple of carries into contact demonstrated the determination not to give up whilst looking to create that little bit of space for one final attempt at the impossible, with James Norman hovering, waiting, the impossible might just prove possible…
Caolan’s pass finds James, this was it, all or nothing. One final run. No room for error. He swerves one defender on his way out of his own twenty-two and then on the half-way line he wrong foots another defender. Being forced out wide more defenders close in on him. He twists. He turns. He twists and turns; just managing to keep his feet in play before weaving his way through to a clear run at the posts, a look over the shoulder followed by the realisation that he had just won the match as he dived over the line to score.
The most dramatic of dramatic finishes, even the most optimistic of parents on the side-line did not see that coming. As soon as Dan slotted the conversion over the posts the final whistle blew giving Camelot the crucial four points in the league and another impressive victory, once again demonstrating a never say die attitude and an ability to win even when not playing at their best.
FT: Camelot 12-7 Harpenden
Tries: Conner, James N