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Didcot U15 Boys earn powerful away win at Wallingford in County Cup

Didcot U15 Boys earn powerful away win at Wallingford in County Cup

Gruff Lewis18 Feb - 15:34
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The 26-17 win over the local rivals was hard fought for first try bonus point - and second win - of the season.

Our last scheduled match of the league was against our local rivals Wallingford. Like us they had only won one match, and we anticipated a close encounter as they usually are.
Apart from Bradley being out through illness, we had a fully fit squad to choose from, giving us a couple of subs for the second match running. Theo, who had recently joined us to play up from the U14s, had not been completely signed off, but was a keen supporter on the sidelines, and got a chance to see how we played.The only other hiccup was that Chris would only be able to turn up at kick off, due to competing in a swimming race in Aylesbury in the morning.
We started with Oil, Ianto and John in the front row, George and Vinzen in the second row, Oli and Rodion on the flanks, and Alex at number 8. Harvey played scrum half, with Liam, Toby and Reuben forming the back line, and William and Tyler on the wings, and Henry at full back. Owen and Chris were on the bench giving us one spare forward and one spare back.

As we are traditionally slow starters - something we need to work on - the first half was a slightly turgid affair. Having made some inroads up the field early on, we earned a penalty right in front of the Wallingford posts. Opting to kick and get some points on the board, Liam lined up what looked like a sitter, but pulled it wide - the boys were nervous. We were able to keep hold of the ball, and have some sustained front foot pressure, but got on the wrong side of the referee. It’s something we have discussed - certain referees are hot on some aspects of the game, and this referee’s point of difference was the breakdown. We were not as precise as we could have been, and as a result we would do the hard work to get up the pitch, but then concede a breakdown penalty, both in attack and defence. Despite these infringements stifling any momentum, we did score halfway though the half. Some great line speed from Toby’s defensive blitz closed Wallingford down in their own dead ball area, and he was able to dispossess the player and dot down for a try. Liam floated over the harder conversion from out on the touch line to make it 7-0. Whilst this should have settled the nerves, it just put us back into ourselves a bit. Wallingford realised that the size of our pack meant they were unlikely to beat us through the middle, so started to get it wider. They manufactured a score of their own by getting the ball outside to the wing, who just got outside our defence to score in the corner. Conversion was missed, score was 7-5. Our response was bitty, and the forwards, particularly John, Vinzen and Alex, were making solid ground, but slow ball often allowed the counter ruck to happen. Wallingford then made the most of their momentum by scoring again after some sustained pressure enabled them to score under the posts, converting to make it 12-7 to Wallingford at half time.
Half time allowed us to regroup, have a discussion and change things up. Tyler came off for Owen on the wing, and our jack of all trades Chris came on for Reuben in the centres, who had received a nasty cut lip which needed seeing to.
We knew we were winning the forward battle, and it was just about keeping the ball in the pack, at the same time tying in defenders and making yards. We were rewarded by a score early on from John who powered through - and over - the Wallingford defence to dot down under the posts. Liam’s conversion attempt hit the post, making it 12 all. We had learned how to play for the ref, and as a result were keeping the ball for sustained periods of attack - forwards were making ground and retaining possession. This allowed us to build momentum, and we quickly scored again after a beautifully crafted move. A few forward pods from John, then George, then Alex tied in all the opposition as they all needed 3 or 4 players to bring them down. With quick ball, Harvey spotted the overlap, fed the ball to Liam, who spread it out to Ianto, who was one of many on hand to score an Ash splash. Liam knocked over the extras, and we were 19-12 ahead. Reuben had now recovered, so came back on, allowing Chris to move into the flank position, replacing Rodion.
With the lead, Liam’s kicking game had Wallingford on the back foot, and when Wallingford had the ball, our defence was robust. Toby’s line speed got him another score, when in our own half he managed to rush up and intercept a pass along the Wallingford backs, running it in under the opposition posts. Liam scored the conversion and we were flying 26-12. We even had a try disallowed when William was held up - rather violently it must be said - over the line. We did have one more ‘learning opportunity’ when a kick from Liam was not chased down well enough, and Wallingford got round the outside again to score a late consolation to make it more a more respectable-looking 26-17 scoreline at the final whistle.
Wallingford voted John their Player Of The Match, but our pick was of course Toby 2Tries.

In the meantime we have been unable to reschedule our last league match v Chipping Norton due to their low player numbers - something we could definitely relate to earlier in the season. So we agreed a draw with them. This means that at the moment our next match is a Wallingford rematch at home in the Semi final of the Shield on the 10th March. We hope to see you there!

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