Old Elthamians Festival report
Horsemen of the Apocalype - Claude, Jayden, Alfie, Jaxson, Sam, Thomas K, Rhian, Michel, Theo, Will and Daniel.
Coaches – Damian and Yannick
The Horsemen v Tonbridge Juddians
For the first time we had a whole team turn up on time and warm up a bit and have a team talk. It was just as well as our first game was Tonbridge Juddians who are very strong. In this game we had to defend for nearly 10 of the 12 mins of the game. Juddians ball retention was good but we tackled and tackled and tackled. However, when we stole the ball back (good rucking from Michel, Sam and Jayden and ripping from Jaxson, we almost immediately dropped the ball or knocked it on. We had six knock ons in this one game and it crippled us as we really did look dangerous with the ball. Nonetheless the tackling was awesome with Thomas K, Alfie, Will and Rhian all getting stuck in. Claude and Daniel were holding the opposition up in midfield and from two steals (Sam and Jaxson) we scored two tries through a big run from Jaxson and a mazy run from Theo. We bunched far less in defence than last week (but still too much) and it was only in the last minute that we bunched around a ruck a little too much and let Tonbridge run round us for a consolation try that they deserved as they were genuinely good. This was the best defence I have seen from the Horsemen this season and I will not single out a single player from a great performance.
Moral of the story – Ah lads – two players at the break down and the rest of us spread out! Oh…..and catch the ball before you imagine what you will do with it!
The Horsemen v Old Elthamians
Next up were our huge rivals, Old Elthamians, and we decided to test the strength of our squad and benched some of our more experienced players and relied on our newer and developing players. The first half was a tough old battle as Elthamians had some =big lads and a couple of very fast boys. This was a real challenge for our team as moist of pace was on the bench. However the payers rose to the challenge. In this first half we did concede two tries (too many players at the tackle or rick and not enough spread out in a line) we broke two of their players through crunching tackles (from Sam and Michel). Alfie, Sam and Mr Letchford were rucking and counter rucking well, ably supported by Rhain and Claude while Jayden was tackling well (but not as low as the week before – so tackle lower because when you do that you are awesome). In the second half we had more pace with Jaxson and Thomas making huge yards however some interesting refereeing from the home team Coach meant that we were not allowed to capitalise on that and we finished 0-2 losers.
Moral of the story – Ah lads – two players at the break down and the rest of us spread out!
The Horsemen v Old Dunstonians
The team were quite annouyed after the Elthamians game and it showed in this game. Michel, Will and Alfie destrfpyed any attempt by Dunstonians to play Rugby and constantly made tackles way ahead of the gain line driving their oppo backwards. As a result Dunstonians had more of a problem with the ball than without. The rucking in the game was better as was the passing from the rick thanks to Claude, Daniel and Rhian. Ac a result the game became quite one sided with tries from Jaxson, Rhian (nice run), Theo, Alfie. Thomas K and Michel.
Moral of the story – defence is not about standing a line waiting for the opposition to run at us - great defence is about running at the opposition in a line together as a defensive team and tackling them behind where the passer passed the ball
The Horsemen v Southwark Tigers
This was a strange game as although Southwark Tigers were not a brilliant side, they somehow dragged us down to play scrappy Rugby at their level. In this game we scored twice quite early (Jaxson again) and then fell to pieces. To be fair we tackled well but our rucking, passing and catching all went wonky. We were ok in this game but could have been great so I am saying no more…..although we won 3-1.
Moral of the story – keep concentrating and do the basics well – ruck pass and catch
A good day had by all. Thank you as ever to the parents for their support and also the encouragement from our fellow team-mates and coaches. Player of the Day – Theo
The Old Whits Warriors consisted of: Malachi B; Noah; Tom C; Charles; Teddy; Jude; Max; Christian; Zachariah; Sam; Akash; Cameron; Tommy T.
The morning started well with all the runners and riders on time and keen for the off. The refs briefing was very clear; no fending or playing the ball off your feet in the ruck or an immediate free pass would be awarded to the opposition. Then we had our first game and perhaps the referee at the briefing was a doppelganger as it became clear early on in our first match that it couldn't possibly be the same person as this was not his interpretation of the very specific instructions delivered.
Game 1- v KCH Pirates 1's
We started well and the contest was evenly balanced to start with, however soon the power of Jude running straight and direct sucked in the defence which meant gaps were starting to open up. With good support play from Akash, linking up well with Sam who ran forward and recycled the ball, meant Noah had the speed to attack the space and scored three lovely tries. Soon we raced into a 4-1 lead and then suddenly we were on the wrong end of the referees whistle and time-keepers watch as the opposition were consistently allowed to handle the ball in the ruck for the rest of the game. They scored 4 unanswered tries and then the whistle blew for full time about 15 minutes into our 6 minute half just as they scored their "winning" try. The boys understandably were very disappointed and the parents were more mono-syllabic than Owen Farrell's interview after the England V Scotland game the day before. Tears were shed and the boys were also very upset. However they took it well, we had a chat and re-grouped for match 2.
Observation: We became complacent after we went 4-1 up and thought we were cruising. Keep playing and scoring tries until the final whistle, although in this instance that could have been on Monday morning as far as the referee was concerned or until the other team finally won.
Old Whits 4-5 KCH Pirates 1's
Game 2- v Old Alleynians 1's
With the first game under our belt the boys bounced back with a vengeance. The game ebbed and flowed with both teams matching each other for the first half. However in the second half we really started to play as a team; Zachariah carried on his fine performance from last week with strong running and counter-rucking, Tom C at the coal-face rucking and taking the ball into contact well and then laying the ball back. Then came one of the best team tries that I have seen for a very long time, with excellent running and support play by every member of the side. Charles in the thick of the action had led the charge by breaking several tackles and recycled the ball well which came to Teddy who floated a superb pass out wide for the team to score in the corner. It was a great demonstration of how to play and how we can play. The whole team came off buzzing and with a smile on their faces. What a contrast.
Observation: Keeping the ball alive and passing into space is very hard to defend against
Old Whits 5-3 Old Alleynians 1's
Game 3 - v Maidstone 2's
This was a very hard fought game as the opposition had some big players which they used to good effect by driving straight into us most of the time. Our defensive effort in this match was much improved as it had to be. The problem most opposition teams have when they play us is that we have such pace out wide they cannot go round us when we make our tackles. Going forward we are lethal and Christian scored a good try with strong direct running and nearly a second, however he was correctly adjudged to have made a double-movement in the process of scoring. Having watched Malachi "man-handle" his mum on the side lines (nicely I hasten to add) I tasked him with saving his energy for the pitch. He didn't disappoint and was really good at the hard graft, link-up play and tackling. However the tackle of the day came unsurprisingly from Tommy T in the corner on our line when it was 2-2. The attacker was going for the corner and Tommy made a try saving tackle and took the opponent out into touch hurting himself in the process. Total commitment. Equally great to see was Cameron who scored a fabulous try in the corner having made up his mind that what what he was going to, backed himself and went for it. Great try. Both sides tired towards the end and played the way the game should be played. Well done team that was a tough, fair contest.
Observation: We will always be in the game with strong defensive tackling
Old Whits 2-2 Maidstone 2's
Game 4 - v Gravesend 2
The boys saved the best for last and really enjoyed freedom to run and attack the space. The opposition missed a lot of tackles which meant the team were able to use their speed and strength once the "engines" had done the hard yards. We used the space we created well and scored 5 great tries out wide with Max ever present making a storming run down the wing to score a fabulous try. Christian was often a whisker away from being offside, however on two occasions he made fine interceptions to score. The rest of the day he was offside! Lots of happy faces for a well - deserved try-fest.
Observation: Great support play created lots of opportunities to score
Old Whits 7-0 Gravesend 2's
P4 W2 D1 L1 F 18 A 10 (+8)
All the boys did well and with more time spent together the results and familiarity improved. It takes time to build a degree of understanding between players, however we could see signs of improvement. If every player can improve one part of their game each week it bodes well for the future strength of the entire squad. A good day had by all. Thank you as ever to the parents for their support and also the encouragement from our fellow team-mates and coaches.
Player of the day:
Noah for his ability to read the game, see the space and attack it at pace. A man who can eat a hot-dog as big as him, then play and score tries whilst managing to keep the hot-dog down. Impressive. Great all round performance.
• Passing out of hand
• Ball retention in open play
• Support play
• Attacked the space
• Used the width and scored lots of tries out wide
• Discipline and Teamwork
Things to work on:
1- Rucking. Only a few players are doing this, the rest are watching. (THE NEAREST TWO PLAYERS MUST RUCK)
2- Tackle Height, first man go low. Too often we are too high and injuries will happen (EVERYONE TACKLE LOWER)
3- Pick up the ball and pass from the back of a ruck QUICKLY. We are standing still and watching the two players in the ruck. Player 3 pick the ball up and pass it out. The opposition are consistently stealing OUR ball which we have fought hard to win.
4- Substitutes please watch the game from the side and then when you come on use your observations to help the team
Coaches Simon & Matt
OWRFC Dragons U10’s
What a difference a week makes! So the sun was shining and we drove to the Eltham ground with high hopes after last week’s Dragons conquest of the Colfes festival. We had some changes to players in the squad, everyone turned up and was ready to go. We had 4 games to play, Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks, Gravesend and Maidstone.
We got started and the boys did a good job, scoring tries, running fast and tackling hard. We won the game against Tunbridge 3 tries to 2, a nice start to the festival. We then had our second game back to back against Sevenoaks, I think we have played them (over the years in festivals), This was a harder game and we were being pushed hard. Our boys did a great job of tackling but we kept losing the ball when we were rucking over. Game 2 was pretty evenly match, and we had a final score of 3-3, I think if we had picked the ball up a couple of times and driven harder in rucks we could have quite easily won this match. The Sevenoaks team played better than we did, took the chances they had (and we gave them) and we drew.
Our third game was harder viewing, after a 40 minute break we lined the boys up for game 3 against Gravesend ….. This was against a side that were very well drilled and, I suspect, had probably had more competitive festival practice than us. The boys weren’t able to keep the ball when rucking over and the other team managed to be in the right place at the right time and this was a pretty bad loss for us, end score 0-5. On reflection I don’t think that the other team were actually very much better than us, but they were more ‘match hardened’ and drilled, they executed very well and we didn’t catch a break.
Game 4, was back to back straight after game 3, and the boys’ heads were low. The Maidstone team were a tough bunch but I thought quite evenly matched. In this game the boys were still struggling to win rucks and unfortunately we lost the ball a few times and they managed to use these breaks to score. This game ended up with a 2-3 loss, over the morning we had a few injuries. William – knock to the head, Freddie a bang to the shoulder, Finn took a couple of knocks to one knee, Louis was hit in the throat and hand, Cyprian – high tackle, Malachi a punch to the face (Katie told their coaches in no uncertain terms that this kind of behaviour wasn’t acceptable – the player and the coaches all apologised but the boy should have been taken off).
At this level the games are getting more physical and the boys need to try and pass before the tackle, over the coming weeks we will focus the training sessions on rucking (and keeping the ball), positioning and team play.
I think the boys did really well, they all played hard and there were some stand out play, Bob scoring some brilliant tries, Tyler tackling with no fear and rucking like a tank, Louis making breaks and tackling, James H tackling and not letting go, Cyprian tackling/running/scoring, Malachi tackling and positioning, Luke making some great runs, William passing and rucking over, Seb for a mix of tackling and running, Freddie for tackling and some great passes, Finn for all round great play and James B for tackling and rucking. If we can tie some of the good play together better and not give away the ball when rucking we will become a very, very strong team.
Well done boys, great day. We know what we need to do to win more, so lets focus and keep making improvements! Brilliant team spirit and as always lovely touchline support from friends and family, the boys were running to see the other teams in between games!