The game against the Medics has been hotly anticipated during the week. Do Sheffield have the fitness, defence, power and brains to outplay the mobility and enthusiasm of the young Medics? A tense warm up led to excitement at the starting whistle as Sheffield kicked off. The mobile back row of, Price, Scotton and Tomlinson were quick to ensure play started deep in the Medics half with an impressive chase. The Sheffield pack ensured that any gain by the medics had to come the hard way with some ferocious hits and driving tackles at the base of countless rucks. Sheffield began to make ground in defence. The superior organisation forced the medics to make some rash decisions who eventually turned possession over through a loose kick from the No 10. Sheffield countered with intent running hard at the Medics line. Both sides turned up for a battle, and that’s exactly what they got. Shef No 10, knowing fitness would be an issue later in the game, kicked Sheffield into position where they could contain an energetic Medics pack. The Sheffield set piece proved too strong for the Medics and training park moves put Ben Shore into the corner after just 10 mins and again Brett Rhodes on the 20 min mark. The Medics pack continued to pick and go only to again be driven back, eventually resorting to a kicking tactic which was obviously under desperation. The Sheffield backline would’ve made Shaun Edwards proud and refused to let the Medics gain an inch out wide. Huge tackles from Byron, Logan, Shore and Rhodes shut the door on any crash balls and returned the loose kicks with pace and direction. Eventually the Shef tackling brought its rewards, a penalty for holding on. Byron kicked Sheffield onto the Medics 22 where the pack opted for a 5 man line. Price gathered Walker’s throw and set up Tomlinson (playing 9 for the move)for a charge towards the posts. Efficient recycling allowed Briston to unleash the backs once more and Johnny Shaw ensured the points with another score in the corner. The Medics resorted to 7s rugby which was dealt with by a calm an organised line. It took just 5 mins for Sheffield to push Medics back again into their half where another penalty was conceded. A kick this time which would take the visitors back to their own 5m line. Sensibly, using the height of Simon Miles, Sheffield gathered a 4 ball in a full line and formed a drive which, like their scrimmage, was far too strong for the Medics pack to compete with. A score for new Prop James Emblem sealed the half.
Sheffield were well aware of the fitness aspect of the medics armoury and knew the last 20 mins would be crucial. They couldn’t be counted out yet. The second half proved looser than the first as tiredness played its part. Sheffield needed more points in order to seal the win. The looser style however, seemed to suit some of the Sheffield forwards who were now making short runs and carrying well. Dorward, Miles, Walker and Emblem, who played rather clockwork roles in the first half were now rampant around the field. Prop Tom Bishop also excelled in running rugby and carried the ball over the try line ten mins into the half, followed by Simon miles 5mins later. As time went on, the Medics key runners, particularly the No8, started to take control of open play and put together some neat phases. Sheffield were forced into some handling errors through powerful tackling from the still energetic Medics. However, the power of the Sheffield pack ensured their efforts could not turn the game by winning almost all scrummages against the head. Had the medics had a more powerful pack, the game may have turned in their favour at 60 mins as predicted. Instead, a scrum turnover allowed Sheffield to run at a dog legged backline and open the scoring in the final quarter. The medics looked determined to score from the kick off and Sheffield’s efforts turned to ensuring that they did not. Defence again tightened as a fumbled ball surrendered possession to the Medics. The Sheffield back row, now with the addition of Allenson worked hard to bring down the runners. Byron, nullified the medics enthusiasm by playing them down the park with some pinpoint kicks from hand. If Medics were to score, they had 70m of hard tackling to break and only 10mins to do it. By now the medics were throwing the kitchen sink but couldn’t penetrate. A neat midfield turn over by Allenson was shipped quickly to the wing and again Shaw crossed skilfully evading the cover. The kick off was gathered neatly by Miles and Byron again pumped the ball deep into the 22. Instead of running with only minutes to go, the Medics full back chipped the ball downfield. Walker gathered the ball in lose play a carried it on for another attack. Dorward carried a second time and Luke Fillingham ordered the forwards to keep hammering on. Sheffield marched the ball right up to the line where Walker picked through the middle of the ruck to cross the line, only to be held up by a gutsy tackle from the Medics scrum half. Quick reactions from Fillingahm released the ball before the whistle and Bishop eventually drove the ball under the posts to complete the phases. This week, the final say was not a score, but a crunching hit by No 10 Byron on the medics No 12 to gain the winning turnover on 80 mins, earnng tackle of the match.