Following the previous weeks result against Nailsea, Trojans Academy had been awarded a home tie against Ivybridge in the quarterfinals of the National Colts Plate. Ivybridge currently head the Devon Colts League and have previously held the Plate so had far more depth and experience in the competition but Trojans Academy approached the game in a confident manner.
Once again the academy had to shuffle the squad to allow for injuries and availability from the winning team of the week before but welcomed back Eddie J for his first game for a while.
The conditions were dry but overcast and windy with Trojans playing into the wind in the first half.
Ivybridge were quickly into their stride pushing Trojans back and making them play from deep in their own half. Strong defence from Trojans noticeably from Tom KO, Ben S and the outstanding David M repelled the onslaught and started to push Trojans forward into Ivybridge Territory. Will B and Tom N made several aggressive drives as Trojans moved into the ascendancy.
A move from halfway led to Tom KO releasing Josh G who managed to use his quick feet to beat three defenders and set up Eddie J for a simple try to take the score to 5-0, Tom KO converted to take the score to 7-0 with 15 minutes on the clock. This was excellent reward for their dominance and hard work. However instead of pushing home this advantage Trojans allowed the visitors back into the game and they were soon level with a try from a rolling maul and conversion. Not to be held down Trojans came back and soon were back in the lead with Tom KO and Josh G setting up Ben S who released Sam W to score in the corner, 12-7.
Half time 12-7 with Trojans ruing the number of missed opportunities to push home the advantage. Missed moves, dropped passes and some players being unfamiliar with each other meant that Trojans left at least 2 tries on the pitch and could have been out of sight. However the defence had been outstanding as well during Ivybridge’s onslaught.
The second half started with Trojans playing with the wind and they were soon deep in Ivybridge territiory. However Ivybridge defended well and had a solid exit strategy. With the Trojans line out under pressure this was working for them and creating field positions and penalties from which they could attack and take the game to Trojans. Ivybridge with leaders all over the pitch were working better as a team combining well as a unit to pressure Trojans. Soon Trojans lost prop Charlie C with an eye injury and his influence in the scrums was missed.
Winger Josh R made an outstanding touch tackle to stop a certain Ivybridge try however a resulting penalty brought about a 12-10 scoreline. Ivybridge were back in the game and seemed to be the team most focused on winning. With Trojans now on the back foot and the wrong side of the referee the penalty count was rising. It was surprising the referee did not award a yellow card bearing in mind the number of penalties awarded.
A breakaway from the Ivybridge no 9 led to a try taking the score to 12-15 and a subsequent conversion took the score to 12-17 with ten minutes remaining. Could Trojans come back into the game? Sadly not with a number of mistakes handing possession back to Ivybridge. With the away team pushing forward the referee awarded them a penalty which was cleanly taken by the impressive no 10 to take the score to 12-20 and the final whistle was blown.
Trojans were left to rue missed opportunities and decisions and consider what they had left on the pitch as their journey came to an end. The team afterwards were clear in that conclusion and felt the disappointment from the performance which was not a reflection of the talent in the team.That said Ivybridge were the more focused and driven of the two teams and thoroughly deserved the win on that basis. To get this far in the competition was hard work and something the whole squad could be proud of.
The Academy now face three fixtures in the Colts League starting with Basingstoke away on Thursday evening as they seek to get back to winning ways and turn the fine losing margins into better results.
MOM was shared between David M and Josh G.