NLD U16’s 41 Eastern Counties U16’s 31
After several weeks of rain NLD managed to avoid the perils of Storm Doris and were blessed with a pitch to play on at Southwell RFC. The day was fine, clear and not too windy. Everyone turned up on time and Sammy the Physio duly strapped up the players who needed it before they hit the pitch.
The team were focussed and ready and we were optimistic. An optimism sadly dented after the first two minutes when EC, taking advantage of sloppy play on our side and benefitting from several penalties, managed to get a try past us, which they duly converted. About 5 minutes later our spirits were buoyed by Ben Smith blistering down the side to score a try for the NLD which Ben Dickinson converted.
EC replied with a try 14 minutes in and NLD showed they were not taking anything lying down with a try from Elliott Caunt half a minute later. The game ebbed and flowed and NLD had several chances which were defeated by sterling defence by EC and the score at half time was all square at 12 all.
The half time talk was more of the same please –the backs going on were told they had a bar raised very high for them by the backs in the first half and we expected them to rise to the challenge. The forwards had been very proactive in scrummaging and at breakdowns and getting the ball out to the backs and more of the same was required.
The subs had been running on with water, tactical advice and kicking tees all the first half and carried on in that supportive role in the second half – it was a real team focussed event.
The second half started and NLD built on their confidence with a try from Joe Barnes, followed less than a minute later by a try from Joe Fitzsimmons. (The forwards having decided not to let the backs have all the fun!) Ben converted the try and the confidence was soaring. This lasted for about a minute when EC replied with a try of their own. At this point the match started to look like a game of table tennis , with NLD scoring through Ben Smith again (converted by Ben D) and EC immediately replying with a try of their own.
NLD then scored through Will Harding-Terry, EC scored almost immediately which they converted and the margins between the two teams sat at 10 with NLD in the lead. There was not long left until the end of the game-but probably enough time for a motived EC side to claw back at least a draw if NLD took their foot off the pedal. Ben Dickinson had been subbed in the second half but was put back onto the pitch due a team member being sent off by the ref and Ben then scored a try which took the pressure off for a short while. EC then squeezed one in at the far corner and we were back to the 10 point gap again.
Luckily NLD held on with some sterling defensive work and at full time the score stood at 41-31 to the NLD. Big cheers all round for what was a whole team performance . There were moments of genuine poetry when the Forwards secured the ball and moved it out to the Backs and the Backs moved it seamlessly up and down their ranks until they managed to score a try. There were moments when the supporting play was breath taking and a player was tackled and offloaded to another player who off loaded again and there always seemed to be someone in support. The tackling was fierce with every player of every size committing whole heartedly, even if it meant wrapping themselves round the ankles of the man mountain of an EC prop to halt his progress or on one occasion three NLD players tackling him to the ground.
The fact that this performance was brought out when we had been unable to train for over two weeks shows you the determination the squad had to bring the result home. The match was filmed for us by Josh Biggs of Nottingham Trent University to send off to the Tigers Academy for them to “spot” players and Lindsey will send the link to this out to all parents once it is completed. It will also be uploaded onto YouTube – anyone with any concerns regarding this should contact Lindsey immediately. The next match should be filmed by Leicester so all players will get the chance to be on film.
The next game is away at Leicester on the 26th, it would be lovely to win but remember Dave’s wise words at the game VS EC (I am paraphrasing here Dave so don’t sue me) –“I would rather you played to the best of your ability and you try your best and we lose than you don’t play to the best of your ability and we win-after all this programme is to give you all the chance to shine “. So let’s build on that-see you all at training.
Match report: Lindsey Riley