U14s progress through to the second round of the NLD Shield...
By Stuart Grantham
...with a win away at Lincoln
So, off we headed to deepest, darkest Lincolnshire for our first match in the NLD Shield with the good news that the constant rain and lightning had been cancelled. Instead, we had the wind blowing across the pitch during warm up and, even this was replaced by sunshine for the game itself. Clearly, someone had realised that both teams wanted to play an open game and not wallow in the mud all match.
The game started with Moderns kicking off into the wind. A short, grubber kick from Harry put Lincoln under some early pressure as they tried to get the ball through the hands and into the Moderns' half. Some good defence with tackles in from Leo and Finn kept Lincoln pegged back before Nathan managed to strip the ball. A few quick hands from Henri, Harry and Noah moved the ball down our back line before the ball was lost in the ruck. Over the first 5 minutes, this was repeated with both teams trying to move the ball around the midfield, but not protecting the ball well enough in the rucks to prevent the opposition turning over the ball. However, these plays did show how closely matched the teams were.
Eventually, Moderns created some space on the far side and got the ball to Nathan, who broke a couple of tackles to cross the line for the first score of the match. With Harry kicking the conversion, Moderns took the lead by 7 points to nil.
Lincoln restarted the match with a deep kick into Harry's hands. With most of the Moderns players in front of him and Lincoln's defenders bearing down on him, he made a few yards before being tackled. Luckily, a couple of Moderns players got back and protected the ball allowing Henri to get the ball away. A couple of short runs close to the ruck by Elliott and Finn started moving the ball back towards Lincoln's half before a knock on gave Lincoln the put in to the scrum. Whilst Moderns held Lincoln stable in the scrum, they eventually got the ball to the scrum half who sent the ball through the backs to their winger who broke down the far side and scored in the left hand corner. A missed conversion brought up a score of 5-7 halfway through the first half.
For the next 5 minutes, the game moved in Lincoln's favour, with a few missed tackles and gaps appearing in Moderns' defensive line, along with Lincoln starting to gain dominance in the scrum, including a couple of turnovers on Moderns' scrum. Eventually, Moderns managed to turnover the ball within 5 metres of their try line and passed the ball to Harry who kicked to clear the pressure. Unfortunately, with Moderns' defensive line in disarray, with some players pushing up and others hanging back, the Lincoln receiving player returned the kick for their second try, scoring right under the posts. With a successful conversion, Lincoln took the lead by 12 points to 7. This turned out to be the final score of the half in spite of both teams trying to move the ball around and create space. Most notably for Moderns was a sequence of passes through the backs, involving Henri, Harry, Noah and finally Ethan on the wing. After a great 5 metre burst down the wing, Ethan got caught and unfortunately the ball was lost forward as he hit the ground.
Half time score: Lincoln 12 Moderns 7
Lincoln restarted the game with a kick into the middle of the Moderns' half. Unfortunately, the ball went straight to Conner who, having sat out most of the first half with a sore thumb, was keen to get into the game. With a couple of hand offs, he was soon past Lincoln's defensive line and into their half. He then jinked past their winger before turning inside and showing the fullback a clean pair of heels to score a solo try underneath the posts. Harry stepped up and kicked the conversion, allowing Moderns to retake the lead by 14 points to 12.
Learning from the previous play, Lincoln decided to kick away from Conner on the restart and the ball was well taken by Aaron and Moderns sought to move the ball through the middle. A few short runs from Elliott and Wyn allowed for some good progress, but the ball was eventually lost in a ruck.
After a short period of possession for Lincoln, Moderns managed to get the ball back and, once again, got the ball out to Conner. With a couple of handoffs, he was once again behind the Lincokn defence and heading towards their line. In spite of a valiant chase by one of Lincoln's winger, Conner managed to get over the line to the left of the posts. Harry once again stepped up and kicked the conversion to bring up the score of Lincoln 12 Moderns 21
If anyone thought that Moderns were in control of this match, they hadn't told Lincoln who, with some good physical play, particularly in the scrum, started to take possession and gain ground. Following a couple of breaks from the forwards, the ball made its way into the backs, eventually getting to their winger in space. With Moderns unable to get their players out wide quickly enough to make the tackles, he scooted in near the left hand corner. With a missed conversion, Lincoln narrowed the gap to 4 points with a score of 17 to 21.
With around 7 minutes left to play, it appeared that the next score may well decide the game.
Some good pressure from Moderns caused Lincoln to knock on the ball a couple of times, albeit Lincoln's strong scrum did allow them to win the ball back on the first occasion. Moderns decided to get the ball into and out of the scrum quicker to avoid the pressure from Lincoln. After some good passing and running by both back and forwards, Nathan managed to break through and cross over the line to the right of the posts. In an effort to make the conversion easier, he ran around the back and towards the posts. Unfortunately, this allowed Lincoln to get some defenders onto him and managed to hold him up over the line. Surprisingly, this resulted in a surprise put in at the scrum to Lincoln who cleared their lines.
On the next play, Moderns managed a couple of runs by Henri and Nathan, but Lincoln defended well and slowed Moderns down before the ball got to Tom in the midfield. Having broken the first tackle, he put his head down, pumped his legs and drove over to score on the right hand side of the posts. Whilst Harry missed his first conversion of the afternoon, it didn't matter as this was the last play of the game and Moderns won by 26 points to 17.
A great win against a similar strength team. Moderns now progress to the second round of the NLD Shield and face the winners of Market Rasen and Boston on Sun 16 December