After an impressive performance at Barnsley last week, the Medics needed to bring the same aggressive mentality to Norton, to face a strong Bradford Salem side. With the weather taking a turn for the worse, high winds and bitter rain would, no doubt, influence a very different style of play.
An intensely drilled warm up saw the students into hitting hard off the kick off, with a well placed kick from Conville putting Bradford immediately under pressure from a high ball. The first 10 minutes consisted of a battle for possession in the centre of the park, with Salem running some strong lines and using their size effectively. As possession continued to change hands, it was the Bradford boys who opened the scoring. The away team sucked the Medics in through effective forward ball and took advantage an overlap, spreading it wide and using good pace to touch down. With the unconverted try, the Medics knew a turn around was needed to make up for silly missed tackles. As the wind picked up, the restart drifted out of play, leading to a skirmish of scrums in the heart of the pitch, in which Hunt and Birch led strong. With the Med’s fighting back hard, the stringing together of good hands and powerful lines, looked as if points were on the cards. However, brawling play at the break down, created turnovers and further possession for Bradford. A midfield break for Salem, in the student’s 22, let a second try: Bradford 12 – Medics 0.
Focussed and not defeated, Green and Fawdry’s words brought back that aggression from the Barnsley game, pushing us into hitting back hard from the kick and pinning Bradford back into their own half. The Medic’s back three were strong under the high ball and thwarted any kicks to get Salem out of trouble. In very high winds, it was the line out accuracy from Shaw, which secured possession. After, battering forward ball, Shaw managed to punch over the line to regain a score before half time.
At 12-5, work was still to be done. With the weather continuing to worsen, the game began to slow, with the rain influencing unforced areas and the shortage of balls provoking many stoppages. However, the Sheffield lads came out of the break with a point to prove and the introduction of fresh legs, turned the pace up a notch. With Hodge slotting an important penalty, the tension was raised and it was the crunching lines from JMAC and Flint which gained important ground for the Medics, putting them in a promising position for the last 20 minutes. As the pressure built, intensity levels rose, seeing 3 yellows spread over the last quarter for Bradford. The game was there for taking…
A darting break from Conville was surely to be the vital score. But no, a questionable decision of ‘held up’. Keeping focussed, the Medics were surely going to crash over the line and take advantage of the numerous Bradford binnings. In the dying minutes, a Salem penalty looked as if it was all over, but a quick turn in events saw Hodge put a huge punt back into the snake pit. With seconds to go, the quick thinking of Watkinson saw him punch through the Salem line for the winning score and securing the Medic’s position at the top of the table. A superb touchline conversion in gale-force winds from Hodge, topped off the performance.
A ruthless victory, seeing the Medics fight to death for a vital win over a fierce Bradford Salem.