The strength in depth of the NLD under 20 squad this season really showed last weekend with 6 enforced changes 48 hours before the game. 31 players have been used so far in this campaign. Even with this, the squad came out winners 35-22 over Oxfordshire only conceeding 5 points in the second half. As well as this there were 8 changes from the squad that played Warwickshire three weeks ago and narrowly lost 18-17.
This win has meant that the squad has made the play off against Cheshire on Sunday 2nd April to be played at Wilmslow Rugby club – kick off 2.30pm.
The game was played in fine weather at West Bridgford Rugby club and was relatively close at half time with Oxfordshire getting the lion’s share of the possession going in at half time 17-11 up. NLD’s defence took a while to get itself together in the first half with three tries against (one converted). Tim Bitirim scored all of the NLD points in the first half with two penalties and a try.
There were some enforced changes where Rahat Chouhoury had to leave the field with a leg injury replaced by Ilkeston’s open side Sam Humphries. Rahat has not had much luck as he was injured in the Warwickshire game as well. Conor Mcclean (15) was also injured so Nottingham Academy’s young Adam Castle came on after about 20 minutes for his first start with the 20s.
The pack had to work very hard in the first half so fresh legs were brought on at half time. Pierre Byworth for Ayrton Radford (both last minute call ups). Joe Mcmenamin for Tom Tucker. Jake Hicklin for TJ Oghere. Harry Graham came on at scrum half for Conor Milnes.
With the Oxfordshire pack tiring during the second half, the tables turned and the NLD scrum became totally dominant. Two tries were scored at the base after the NLD scrum drove the opposition scrum back over 15 metres. One by James Newman (moved to 8) and one by scrum half Harry Graham. Another sniping try by Harry Graham and a solo effort try by Bitirim (with two of the 4 NLD tries in the second half converted by him) left the score at 35-22 at fulltime – 20 points score by fly half Bitirim.
The team spirit in this squad is brilliant with everyone playing for and supporting their mates on and off the pitch.
Phil Milton (head coach) said “This result is well deserved after coming so close against Warwickshire. We now have some interesting selection decisions to make for the match against Cheshire. Whatever happens I have been very impressed with the commitment to training and mutual support amongst the players. This success is also due to the planning and training sessions by my fellow coaches Steve Grainger, Adam Gallagher and Jake Lamb.”
|Oghere||Teiri Ajuki||Derby/Loughborough University|
|Forbes||Dre||West Bridgford/Nottingham Academy|
|Newman||James||South Leicester/Nottingham Acdemy|
|Gathercole||Reuben||Long Eaton /Nottingham Academy|
|Choudoury||Rahat||Nottingham University/ Middlesborough/Hinkley|
|Tucker||Tom||Long Eaton /Nottingham Academy|
|Mazoredzi||Malvin||Long Eaton /Nottingham Academy|
|Fletcher||Philip||Kesteven /Keele University|
|Taylor||Will||Nottingham Trent University|
|Hicklin||Jake||West Bridgford/ Nottingham Academy|
|Mcmenamin||Joe||Long Eaton/ Nottingham Academy|
|Graham||Harry||Hartbury College/Nottingham Academy|
|Castle||Adam||Spalding/ Nottingham Academy|
NLD under 20 Team Manager