NLD U 18’s v Staffordshire U18’s – Super Sunday 17 December
In appallingly wet conditions and on a very muddy pitch, the NLD squad played their final game in the Midlands campaign against Staffs. at Broadstreet RFC yesterday.
The match was very competitive with the NLD players having to work hard defensively against a Stafforshire team with numerous heavyweight forwards. The day lent itself much more to a driving, mauling game than the more open and expansive style favored by the Boys in Blue. Nevertheless, everyone ‘fronted up’ and showed commendable organisation to deny the hard running Staffordshire forwards any space in which to work.
Conditions made throwing in and catching at the lineouts quite challenging and the NLD pack take considerable credit from their efforts to provide some quality ball for the Backs to use. Accelerating into space proved ever more difficult in the sticky conditions and it was no surprise when the half-time whistle blew without a score being registered.
The second half produced more of the same, although it was the NLD team that looked the more likely to score. A long range penalty attempt by the Staffordshire Fly Half fell a long way short and the game had reached its last quarter before any points were scored.
From a position deep in their own 22, the NLD defence withstood considerable pressure from the boys in green and managed to relieve the situation with stolen ball and a long clearance downfield. From the lineout, NLD continued to apply the pressure and, following several penalties and a number of ‘pick and goes’, Logan Watt crashed over the Stafforshire try line. Will Helliwell converted the try and despite a final flurry of possession and staunch defence by the Blues, these were to prove to be the only points of the game.
The NLD players can take great pleasure in a complete ‘shut out’ against a team probably more suited to the conditions and they can now only wait until after the Grading Meeting on 10 January to discover how many of them might be selected for the initial Midlands Development day.
It has been a great campaign with a group of players who gelled well from the start, who have, hopefully, enjoyed the experience of playing at representative level and being part of a squad which worked hard throughout to give themselves the best possible chance of further success within the programme.
The Coaching team will now turn their thoughts to the trials in February next year as we look forward to another successful Midlands campaign.