NLD under 20s championship squad made a good start to their 2016 campaign in the England under 20 Counties Championship with a close fought win 14-10 over an experienced North Midlands squad at Derby RFC on Sunday 6th March.
NLD had only one player carried over from the 2015 campaign which meant it was a young squad. 11 clubs/organisations were represented. The squad gelled very well on and off the pitch considering there had only been six training sessions and one training game.
The first half started with both teams sizing each other up and playing their respective styles of rugby. NLD was able to get the ball wide quickly (a strength of the squad) on a number on a occasions after putting good phases together which produced a well taken try by winger Michael Agyei after only 6 minutes converted from fairly wide out by fly half Harry Collins.
This was followed by an opportunistic try by the North Midlands scrum half Jacob Nash at 16 minutes who spotted a gap though the middle of the NLD defensive line. This followed a number of forward drives and mauls (a style of play that North Midlands used for most of the match).
NLD followed this with another superbly taken try by Michael Agyei after stretching North Midlands wide on a number of occasions – again converted by fly half Harry Collins.
After half time both teams started to made a number of changes – some due to injuries. As can happen – this did interrupt the flow of the game and patterns for both sides. So much so that there was no more scoring until the 77th minute where the NLD defence gave way after severe pressure on their defence and North Midlands scored a forwards try – not converted.
This was an impressive win by a young squad who were as happy defending hard as they were attacking out wide.
Head coach Phil Milton said ” I am really pleased for the lads to come away with a win against a North Midlands squad who had players from clubs playing in considerably higher leagues than most of our NLD squad. This level of rugby helps to develop the lads as players and gives them exposure to regional and national selectors. The team spirit was superb and we will take that into next weekend’s game against East Midlands at Kettering RFC – kicking off at 2.30pm.”