Away at Beccs was always going to be a difficult fixture for the boys, although I think that everyone realised this except for the boys themselves.
Beccs were clearly up for it from the start and showed a clear physical advantage over an Elthamians side who seemed to think that all they had to do was turn up to get a result. In reality they couldn't have been more wrong.
With Beccs dominating the play upfront and Elthamians failing to compete at the ruck and maul, it was only minutes into the game when the Beccs No8 took it blind and ran through a couple of half hearted tackles to set up the first try of the day directly under the posts. Conversion added, 7-0 to Beccs.
Five minutes later and with Old Elthamians struggling to get into the game Beccs used their superior rucking to quickly recycle the ball and pull the OEs backline across the pitch. With Old Elthamians over committed to the ruck and Beccs with forwards to spare, the ball was floated wide to their impressive No8 now occupying the 12 channel. With no covering Forwards and an AWOL Centre, Old Elthamians found themselves hopelessly exposed and outnumbered in midfield. Again, a couple of half hearted tackles and Beccs were once again under the posts. Conversion added, 14-0 to Beccs.
This pattern of play continued throughout the first half with Beccs dominating the rucks and mauls and stretching the OEs midfield across the pitch at will. With Old Elthamians forwards failing to learn from their mistakes and not protecting the ball in contact, we were repeatedly stripped of possession, allowing Beccs to take advantage of quick turnover ball and run in two more converted tries before half. time. 28-0 to Beccs.
The Second half began just as poorly as the first for Old Elthamians, with Beccs playing simple but effective rugby and Old Elthamians seeming unable to hold a defensive line or develop any form of pattern play when in possession. Once again, from a ruck in midfield, Beccs moved the ball wide where they easily exploited two lumbering forwards to add another converted try to the ever increasing scoreline. 35-0 to Beccs.
Although Old Elthamians did fight back for a short period midway through the second half and score two consolation tries from Mathew B and Joe W, it was Beccs who finished strongly, adding a further two tries to make the final score a rather humiliating 49-10 to Beccs. Not only an embarrassing loss to our local rivals but also our biggest defeat ever by some considerable margin.
This was, without doubt, the worst Old Elthamians performance that I have witnessed from this age group in the six years that I have been with them. There is no doubt that some of the Squad are of the opinion that they are only required to turn up to guarantee a win. Whilst I would not wish to detract anything from the Beccs performance, which I thought was superb throughout the game, this was an Old Elthamians side who have let themselves down terribly by their inability and failure to compete at the break down and protect their own ball in contact. With the constant struggle at the breakdown and a naivety with regards commitment to the ruck, we were constantly outnumbered in the backs and too often stretched wide with slow lumbering forwards left to defend in the back line. Although the backs were at fault on many occasion for weak or missed tackles, the blame must be shared with the forwards who failed to put Beccs on the back foot on any occasion during 2nd and 3rd phase play and found themselves stripped of ball or turned over on far to many occasions. With our forwards constantly on the back foot and no one willing or capable of turning this around without turning over the ball, we were unable to instigate any of our pattern play that may have led to a better performance by the team. Throughout the match Beccs appeared calm and controlled, whilst Old Elthamians became increasingly more panicked as the game unfolded. In all, a team of individuals with no leaders of men.
There are lessons that need to be learnt from this defeat if we are to turn the season into the success that we had hoped it would be. Please remember how this defeat felt the next time you pull on an Old Elthamians shirt .
On a positive note, we won all of our scrums and two of theirs.