u14s win first game of 2019
By Stuart Grantham
After a well balanced game, Moderns secure the win
So, first game of 2019 saw our u14s facing Paviors at home. Having never played against Paviors before, it was going to be a new experience for players and coaches alike.
In addition, the winter had finally arrived. Whilst the snow is supposed to be on its way in a couple of weeks from now, the game was played in a fresh breeze running from south to north, along with very fine rain (the stuff which gets you very wet without you realising it). As a result, the ball was going to be slippery and, if they stood still, the boys would get cold.
Having lost the toss, Moderns had to kick the ball to Paviors, but would benefit from the wind behind them in the first half.
Harry started the game with a kick to the right and, with a good chase from his team mates, Paviors found themselves under some early pressure. Whilst they made a little progress, on the second ruck, strong counter rucking from Moderns saw the ball turned over and quickly out from Henri to Harry before it headed through the hands of the back line and giving Noah an opportunity to run at Paviors. He took it to ground and the ball went through a couple of phases before Paviors returned the favour and turned over the ball. Unfortunately for them, a couple of passes led to a knock on and the first scrum of the day – Moderns put in. This set the tone for much of the game with competition and pressure from both sides and probably a few more handling errors from Paviors giving the ball back to Moderns.
Whilst the first scrum resulted in the ball popping out of the tunnel, both sides had set the scrum well, ensuring that we would have a decent, fair competition. The second scrum saw both hookers working hard, but Moderns striking the ball back to Conner at no8. This gave Conner his first opportunity to run at Paviors and, after drifting across the field, he attacked their line and made 10 to 15 metres before they managed to bring him to ground. Good support from Finn and Leo ensured the ball was retained and a couple of short runs from Elliott and Christian moved Moderns into Paviors’ 22. Unfortunately, the ball was eventually turned over and Paviors cleared their lines.
On Modern’s next attack, the boys moved the ball across the back line with Owen taking the ball forward from the centre and Tom demonstrating good strength and power through the middle in his new position of flanker. Henri was quick to the breakdown and the boys moved the ball through the hands. Eventually, Zidane and James worked the ball into a ruck about 5 metres from the try line and about 5 metres from the touchline. With a quick pass from Henri to Rouwan on the wing, somehow Rouwan managed to skip down the sideline and score just inside the try line flag. With a difficult position for the conversion from Harry, Moderns took the lead by 5-0.
From the restart, Finn took the ball forward and, with a couple of quick rucks, Moderns were soon back in Paviors’ half of the field. The boys were mixing the plays up with a combination of short forward runs and passing the ball down the line into space. Conner was making a nuisance of himself and occasionally listening to Graham’s shouts from the sideline to “pass the ball”. This gave some good opportunities for Harry, Noah and Owen to take advantage of the space created by Paviors having to put a couple of players on Conner. Eventually, the ball came back to Conner who broke the line and headed in close to the posts. With clear instruction from his team mates to score under the posts, Conner swept round the back of the try line only to fall foul of the dead ball line and miss out on the score.
Paviors restarted with a 22 drop out. Unfortunately, Moderns hadn’t considered what this meant and, with most of the team more than 10 metres back, Paviors went for a short tap. Luckily, Moderns were saved from potential embarrassment by a knock on from the Paviors player as he went to pick up the ball. From the resulting scrum, Conner tried a grubber kick through. Unfortunately, he did not know his own strength and the ball rolled over the deal ball line, leading to another 22 drop out.
Initially, Moderns put everyone on the 22 before realising that maybe they needed a combination of some players in front of the kicker and some deep to receive the ball. As Paviors kicked the ball, Elliott’s close proximity result in blocking the kick and Paviors were under pressure inside their own 22. They worked hard and moved the ball into the middle of the field before Moderns secured a penalty for holding on.
With the first penalty of the game, Harry went deep into the corner and, whilst it didn’t go straight out, the ball managed to bounce out on the 5 metre line. With a short line out from Elliott to Zindane, the ball was quickly into Henri’s hands. With quick passes from Henri and Harry, Owen broke through the line before getting tackled about 3 metres short. As he was not held, he was quickly back on his feet. Unfortunately, as he did not release the ball as he got back to his feet, he was penalised for a double movement. As this is quite a technical penalty, he was unfortunate, but it provided a good learning opportunity for both sides.
Paviors cleared their lines and were soon in the middle of the pitch from the resulting line out before a knock on gave the ball back to Moderns. After a couple of phases, a high tackle gave a penalty to Moderns on the tram side of the pitch. Harry decided to kick, but rather than going for the close touchline, he launched the ball to the far side of the pitch towards a quick moving Rouwan on the right wing. With the kick perfectly weighted, it almost dropped perfectly into Rouwan’s hands for a potentially clear run in to score. Unfortunately, the ball just clipped Rouwan’s fingertips and fell forward. A great idea which was so close to coming off.
Whilst there were a couple more plays in the half, it soon came to an end with Moderns going in at half time with a lead of 5 to nil.
Elliott received the ball from the restart and drifted to the left hand side of the pitch. After running past a couple of tacklers, he sent the ball out to Billy on the left wing who tried to run down a 1 metre channel along the touchline. Unfortunately, he was tackled into touch, leading to a line out for Paviors. A quick ball from the lineout and a couple of passes in field got the ball to Paviors’ centre who was one of their larger, stronger lads. He broke through the middle and looked like he might be away before Wyn put his body on the line and brought him to ground. Paviors played it close over the next few phases and, whilst Moderns tackling was strong, they made good progress. The early pressure eventually resulted in a penalty which Paviors put deep into Moderns 22. For the line out, Paviors called ‘all in’ bringing 7 of their forwards into the line. Luckily, after the experience against Market Rasen, Moderns recognised the plan for a rolling maul and quickly got a number of the forwards to stop the drive. Whilst this forced Paviors to move the ball out, they continued to make good progress and very quickly were within 5 metres of the try line. Moderns defended strongly as Paviors tried 2 or 3 times to get across the line. As Moderns were penalised for hands in the ruck, Paviors reset 5 metres back and took a tap penalty. After a few more attempts to drive over the line, eventually the Moderns defensive line was breached and Paviors scored their first try. With the conversion missed, the match was tied at 5 all.
Moderns restarted the game with a kick down the middle and, with a good chase, quickly put Paviors under pressure. This resulted in a knock on and a scrum to Moderns half way between Paviors 22 and the halfway line. A good strike from Elliott saw the ball move through the backline to Tom who was now at no8. Henri dug in and passed the ball out to Harry, then Owen, then Noah before releasing Billy down the left wing. After a couple of rucks, the ball was moved deep into Paviors 22 before Leo got through the middle and released the ball to Noah to score under the left hand post. With the kick in front of the posts, Harry kicked the conversion and Moderns retook the lead by 12 to 5.
The next 10 minutes was a balanced game with both sides making ground but not troubling the score board. Through this period, Paviors were playing a close, tight game with their three biggest players (their captain, centre and second row) having success driving the ball forward. They eventually got a reward from this hard work with a second try to the right hand side of the posts. With their centre kicking the conversion, the game was tied again at 12 – 12.
Before the final 30 seconds, the highlight of the last 5 minutes was an interception by Tom in midfield as Paviors sought to get the ball from their flyhalf to their centre. With a slight stumble after he took the ball, he didn’t quite make as much progress with the interception as he hoped, but he did manage to get into Paviors half and give Moderns possession.
With 30 seconds to go, Paviors had knocked on just outside Moderns 22. From the resulting scrum, Conner (who had spent the past 20 minutes on the sideline) picked and drove across the pitch. With the opposition shouting their new call “24” (Conner’s number) as they chased across the field, he passed the ball out to Owen, who passed to Noah, who passed to Rouwan to sprint down the wing before cutting inside. Rouwan was tackled to ground, but, with Paviors captain coming in from the side, Henri kicked to the corner deep into stoppage time. Ethan threw the ball into Zindane who got the ball to Henri and the ball was passed down the backline all the way to Billy on the left hand. The ball was then worked back towards the middle of the field and Conner broke the line before passing off to Rouwan who snuck over the line for the winning try.
Whilst Harry missed the conversion, the game was over and Moderns had won by 17 points to 12.
Against a really well matched opposition, the boys played fantastically well, all working hard for each other. After a difficult patch pre Christmas, the defensive structure was significantly improved with everyone making their tackles and putting the opposition under pressure. In attack, the boys tried a few things, moved the ball around and occasionally kicked for territory with great chasing putting the opposition under pressure.
Overall, this was probably one of the best performances of the season.
Well done boys.