Light Blues had a somewhat slow start to the match. Eventually we did manage to put a few phases together, with some great handling showing through & also some great offloads.
Nate was kept busy all morning as he was tested with several high balls, but never faltered, always looking for support to help with the counter-attack, finishing the match with a lovely draw & pass. He probably could have scored himself, dragging one or two of the opposition with him, but he unselfishly offloaded the ball, helping his teammate to score unopposed.. EXACTLY what we want to see. This is a team game & that’s how we want to play it.
Jacob A did 2 lovely chip kicks, one cross-field for Nate to chase & pick up on the bounce & score in the corner, & the second one was a chip over the last defender to then regather the ball himself & score.
Frankie was another with an extremely high work rate, getting stuck in to the rucks & mauls, & as he knows only one way to run, there was plenty of straight running up the middle, along with Ed Hodges & Will BT, both of whose tackling was as fierce as usual, these 3 guys did a lot of damage in the midfield, causing a lot of headaches for Exmouth.
Archie had some strong runs during both matches, but for me, it was his defence which really stood out, with some devastating tackling. His technique was spot on, & I hope some of his teammates took note, as we had too many people trying to tackle high. Some were getting bumped off, some JUST managed to slow the opposition down, & the rest were getting told off or penalised by the ref for going in too high.
Another of our new guys is also starting to shine. From the first few weeks where he didn’t want to get too involved with the contact side of rugby, now we can’t keep him out of it!! Olly is growing in confidence & seems really happy to be out on the pitch, & long may it continue. Well done Olly!!
Our tackling seems to have gone a bit wayward at times, so hopefully some of you have watched either the Pat Lam tackling video which some people have used already, or the Jamie Joseph video, which Mike has put on WhatsApp recently. Both are worth a look. We still need to get more guys into the rucks & mauls as some people are still standing off, & just watching.
One thing we had forgotten about was the kicking in play when the opposition drop the ball. This happened to us; we kicked the ball, they dropped it, but they retain possession into the ensuing scrum. We thought it was s scrum to us, but it is the opposition put in.
N.B. This is to stop players kicking the ball directly to their opponents. We must try & direct the ball away from them or we can unfortunately, lose possession.
We must try & not kick willy-nilly if we must kick at all.
And even though we had 2 x 15 minute halves for each match, we still had some waiting time on the sidelines.
This is just one of those things, as we have such a big squad of 30, & we had 29 players turned up to play, so with only 1 squad member away, we are unfortunately, going to be spending some time on the sidelines as subs..
So overall, we had a great day, scored a few really good tries, should’ve scored a lot more if our players could stop cutting back inside so much & use the overlaps that we work so hard for.
BUT, we will get there, I’m so sure of that. Positive thoughts.
Well done everyone, a great overall effort.
P.S. If any parents would like to act as “substitutes person”, it would really help the coaches out a great deal.
Thank you to Pete Ford & Chris Searle, who helped us out at the Cullompton game, looking after the substitutions, much appreciated.
Topsham vs Exmouth
Prepared for a tight battle after being run close at the Land Rover Cup and faced with a team with pace, power and bulk, Topsham went into the first game braced for an real battle. The intensity from the first whistle was outstanding and defensively, the line was solid and tackles were made with great energy by every member of the team. Our line defensive line repeatedly pushed Exmouth backwards and forced them to scramble kicks out of defence and our attack showed sparks of good rugby to get over the whitewash and take a healthy lead. This theme continued for the entire game, with moments of great rugby and great energy in defence, Exmouth were repeatedly stifled in attack and pummelled when we had the ball. Our rugby brains still struggled to remember our training routines - taking the ball at pace from breakdowns, having two runners from scrums, recognising where space was and putting the ball through the hands when we have an overlap - this stuff needs to become routine rather than a reaction to someone hearing a coach shouting for it to happen! There were some magical moments, the backwards cross field kick from Jayden (that made up for the fact that we ignored another 4 man overlap!) that was taken serenely by Jo F, who followed it up with a deft grubber past the last defender for Jo RL to follow up and touch down for the try. Delightful skill from all, but in many ways I would have preferred to see the ball being out through the hands in the direction of the over lap and simple drawing of the defender and pass to score! Riley ran great line all day and there were some deft dummies from him and George that opened up gaps in the defence - a reminder not mix it up and not throw too many dummies though!
Harlan and Riley really led the defence with some crunching hits, Riley hitting with controlled aggression and Harlan showing excellent tower of power and technique to chop down defenders repeatedly at ankle height. Our intensity at the breakdown really blew Exmouth away - the rucking especially was dominant and we won turn over after turnover - with every member of the team contributing, which was great to see.
The same theme ran through the second game and Exmouth didn't know what had hit them - score line of 8-1 and 9-2 through the two matches demonstrated the dominance of Topsham. Lessons to learn were clear though - we must start putting the drills from training into the games - EVERY scrum should have two runners EVERY time - no excuses. Tackling was committed and effective in this game but our technique going in to contact must improve in every contact situation - Tackle, Ruck and Maul (and when entering contact when we have the ball). We need to live sleep and breathe the technique:
First step: Tower of Power
Second step: Foot placement
Third step: Arms - Hands to calves
Fourth step: Shoulder contact
We will work on this in training until it is second nature and it will make us a much more destructive and effective team.
Brilliant performance all round from the team and all should be proud of the improvements we have made since our last fixture against a strong side.