So far, it’s been a season of finding things out, of new squad members gelling, of a new(ish) looking pack finding its feet and of a back division that, in glimpses, has shown real potential. It is there, we are certain, some real, proper 15-man rugby, but that potential – can it be realised? And what better place to find out whether this new squad of players can take the next step of their rugby journey, than a local encounter against our closest rivals, Pinner?
The day started well. With one exception, the team arrived on time, nobody got lost and ended up at a different club and it seemed as if everybody had remembered all of their kit – progress indeed! The mood in the changing room was good – some humour yes, but also a focus and a togetherness – a determination to go out there and do well for each other.
And so to the first half. Both teams started well and it was clear from the kick-off that Pinner were going to play a full part in this encounter and indeed, it was the home team that opened the scoring enjoying not a little success around a slightly concerned soft Ruislip fringe. Galvanised by their opponents scoring, Ruislip took the game back to Pinner gaining the ascendancy for the middle of the first period and demonstrating some clean crisp handling. This eventually produced a response for the visitors as they went over for their opening try of the match on the left wing. In a pattern that established itself for the rest of this encounter, Pinner came back at Ruislip and again scored through their forwards to take a half-time lead of 10-7.
The half-time view from the players was that they ‘were in this’ but that defensively they needed to tighten up and also, a special little chat between the coaches and the Ruislip forwards – how much did they really want this, just how much?
And to their great credit, the Ruislip pack answered this simple question with their best 35 minutes of the season so far. No more softness around the fringe, a step up of energy defensively, the tying in of the Pinner pack who were clearly concerned about the Ruislip backs, and a proper, proper platform from which to play rugby.
The result was that this second period was spent almost entirely in Pinner’s half, increasingly so as the match wore on. The handling in attack sharpened up, the interplay between backs and forwards started to show itself and, consequently, two unanswered tries for Ruislip provided a final scoreline of 12-21.
So yes, progress and the realising of some of that potential with a result that actually didn’t flatter Ruislip. Some togetherness and frankly, some grunt that, if it can be maintained, bodes well for the future of the U16Bs this season.
And last of all, we would like to thank Pinner for their hospitality and also for the manner in which they approach their rugby. This was a good, competitive and sometimes tough encounter which was always played in the correct way by both teams – a good Sunday morning outing.