NLD U16s v Staffordshire U16s Report
Super Sunday 2 Sunday 16th November 2014 Leicester Grammar School
NLD U16s 12 – 7 Staffordshire U16s
Sunday saw the NLD U16 squad travel to the fantastic facilities at Leicester Grammar School for the final game in this season’s county championship against Staffordshire.
Some positional and personnel changes were implemented for the game but NLD were looking to finish the campaign well. With this seasons skipper Tom Walton given leave to play for his school with his selection for the Midlands camp guaranteed, William Boot took over the captain’s role.
A fired up squad took to the field looking to impress on every level and they were soon punching holes into Staffs and gaining territory. Frustratingly however, NLD seemed unable to make the most of any scoring chances as Staffs manfully repelled scoring opportunities. This coupled with a lack of precision and discipline in the opposition 22 meant the game remained scoreless after the first 20 minutes.
The on looking spectators must have felt it was just a matter of time before Staffs would crack but resolute in defence they remained, with Charlie Livesey going close but just bundled to touch shortly before the impressive Liam McStay tried to dance his way over but was just denied.
It would be a moment of individual brilliance that broke the deadlock. This was provided by Andrew Brown, who had been moved from full back to scrum half for the game. He broke from the back of a scrum and showed pace, footwork, skill and strength to find a way to go over at the corner for a relieving score. Elliot Adamson was agonisingly close with his conversion from the touchline.
At 5-0 up NLD looked more comfortable, but Staffs miserly defence remained till half time. At half time the changes were rung to freshen things up, make some positional changes and give every player the required game time.
The pattern of the game remained the same with NLD attacking at every opportunity but Staffs’ impressive defence holding NLD at bay. With just a single score to the good NLD had far from won the game, and in rugby anything can happen, and suddenly the unthinkable did. A loose NLD pass was intercepted on half way for Staffs winger to show great pace and score at the posts. As disappointing as this was, you have to give credit to Staffs who remained in touch due to their great defence. With the conversion successful, Staffs were now in an unlikely 5-7 lead, with 20 minutes to go.
NLD could have been forgiven for thinking that this was not to be their day, but giving in is not in the squad’s nature and what came next was the best pattern of rugby the squad had put together throughout the championship. The forwards drove through midfield and Jack Dickinson took the ball to the 22. A fantastic clearout from Joe Heyes meant there was quick ball for the backs. A 3 man overlap had been created with Staffs back pedalling, and the ball was worked through quick hands to Oli Burns who completed the score to rapturous cheers.
Another wide out conversion was this time nailed by Elliot Adamson to make the score 12-7. A fired up and relieved NLD side were back on the front foot.
The remainder of the game saw much more of a midfield stalemate with NLD continuing to attack, but Staffs also on the attack looking for another killer blow. With the final whistle NLD were pleased and relieved to have come through the game victorious.
There were 2 different aspects to this game with NLD’s attack impressive in itself, but on the flip side, Staffs defensive work was equally impressive and this made for a great game to watch.
The squad now face an agonising wait to see who has made it to the Midlands training squad.
The coaches and management would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the lads and parents who have been involved with the squad this season. They have approached the process with an attitude which you usually attribute to professional athletes and they have been a joy to work with and a credit to their schools, clubs and NLD. We wish them all the best of luck with their future rugby careers.
Jake Hickling, Corey Lewis, Joe Heyes, William Boot, Thjomas Osborne, Reuban Pritchard, Jack Dickinson, Sam Pace, Andrew Brown, Elliot Adamson, Liam McStay, James Martin, Charlie Livesey, Oli Burns, James Peachey, Edward James, Harkaren Singh-Sandhu, Lewis Himsworth, Alex Hanham, Alex Morris, James Thomas, Christopher Hardy, Mark Hendy
Match report: Ian Charles, NLD U16 Manager