Dominant second half performance eases North to comprehensive victory
North turn over 9-point half time deficit to run out convincing winners
A strong half time talk by coach Andy was the catalyst for North to turn around a half-time deficit into a comprehensive victory, after a lacklustre first half saw North concede three tries in the last four minutes of the half. Slip shod tackling by the home side created a porous defence that the visitors exploited to deservedly lead by nine points at the break.
North got off to a flying start to score the opening try within a minute, when Mack, following up his own hacked through ball from mid-field, out paced the defence to kick through again and then touched down near the left corner. The missed conversion left North 5-0 up.
However, within three minutes, Clevedon got over, despite a fantastic last gasp tackle by Mack. The conversion put North in arrears 5-7.
Straight from the restart North punched into the visitors’ 22 and were awarded a penalty. With both sets of players expecting a kick to touch, James took a tap to himself and slalomed through to touch down under the posts to leave the easiest of conversions for himself; 12-7 to North.
North now had the upper hand and on 13 minutes Jacob eventually drove over after North had been held up on the line by sterling defence for several minutes. The conversion, from a wide angle was missed, but North now led 17-7.
Five minutes later, the visitors pulled a try back after another great break was initially held up just inches from North’s line; but they recycled smartly for a seven-pointer to leave them trailing by three points 17-14.
North retaliated quickly and set up camp within five metres of the visitors’ line; Ollie appeared to have scrambled over but was adjudged to have been held up. From the ensuing scrum, No.8 Max picked up and battered his way over for an unconverted try in the 22nd minute; 22-14 to North.
North then appeared to lose the plot, conceding three tries in four minutes to go in for their half-time oranges, trailing 22-31.
From James’ hanging second half restart, you could tell that coach Andy had fired the North lads up at half-time, as they were immediately on the front foot, although it took seven minutes before Tom Bennett darted through a narrow opening to cross over under the posts; James converted to reduce North’s deficit to two points; 29-31. Two minutes later, Panashe made a sizzling break along the left touchline, but was unluckily forced into touch just short. North were now enjoying territorial and possession dominance and on 13 minutes, Lucki turned over possession near the visitors’ line; the ball was recycled to Panashe who spied Mack out on the right and the North full back made no mistake to touch down just right of the posts; James did the necessary with the conversion and North now led 36-31, a lead that they would not relinquish.
Clevedon didn’t lie down and from the restart gained a foothold in the North 22; however the homesters turned over possession and with slick passing through the hands involving Alfie to James, to Tom Bennett, who released the mercurial Mack on his own 10 metre line and the wizard did the rest to race in under the posts for his third try of the day. James converted to put North into a commanding lead, 43-31.
The visitors kept plugging away but struggled to get a foothold in the North half and on 26 minutes, James intercepted on the half way line and made a lung-bursting run to collapse over the visitors’ line for his second try of the day; the conversion was missed but North’s lead was now unassailable at 48-31. Clevedon ran in a seven-point consolation try on the stroke of full time, but North’s second half defensive performance was excellent. Final score 48-38.
This was another great overall squad performance and so difficult to single out individuals. However, Finn’s power and agility in the front row more than made up for the absence of Jamie and adds a new dimension to both defence and attack. James' return and his understanding with Alfie and Tom Bennett means that the ball gets moved quicker through the hands to create more openings; Jacob and Mike are power houses at second row where Luke J also is a valuable addition, while Isaac and Ollie are ace poachers who hunt down every opponent andr loose ball.
It was also great to see Dougie back playing and the support from injured players Will, Jamie, and Joe Meads.
Tries: Mack (3), James (2), Jacob, Max, Tom Bennett
Cons: James (4)
Line Up: 1.Dougie 2.Tom Bartlett 3.Finn 4.Luke J 5.Jacob 6.Ollie 7.Isaac 8.Max 9.Alfie 10.James 11.Ed 12.Tom Bennett 13.Panashe 14.Matt 15.Mack
Subs: Chris, Joe Bees, Joe Brake, Lucki, Mike, Riley