Sunday 03 December saw the first competitive run out for the NLD U18s Squad against a strong and physical Staffs. side at Coalville RFC in the first Super Sunday game of the Midlands campaign.
The Squad have trained hard and worked together to establish themselves as a close knit unit, and this was evident throughout the game.
Having conceded an early try following numerous penalties, the starting 15 showed resilience against a strong Staffs. pack and were rewarded with two tries in quick succession. The first, following relentless pressure on the Staffs. try line and the second following quick ball to the centre field.
The game ebbed and flowed with neither side establishing any real ascendency which was reflected in the score line at half-time at 19-19.
Mandatory changes were made during the interval and, in the opening minutes of the second half, it was clear that the number of changes made had created some initial disruption within the NLD side and Staffs. took advantage of a loss in defensive patterns to take the lead at 26-19.
That was to prove the final score for the Staffs. side as NLD started to re-establish their patterns and introduce some much needed organisation into the defensive line. From that point, NLD began to dominate a tiring Staffs. team and there were a number of tries scored out wide which demonstrated to the watching selectors a wide range of skills across the team.
Relentless work in the breakdown by the Forwards provided the Backs with quick, accurate ball and they were able to continually stretch the Staffs. defence through a combination of quality decision making, accurate distribution and clinical finishing. The final score of 46-26 was a fair reflection of the second half dominance of the NLD players against a hard working and physical Staffs. team.
Head Coach, Stuart Morley, reflected on the day’s performance, with the players contributing to the discussion, and the Coaching and Management Team were impressed with the analysis from within the squad. Everyone involved, while excited by a fine performance and pleasing result, acknowledged that there remained lots to look at in terms of improvement.
The Squad will look to work on those areas requiring better execution at the training session on 10 December, prior to the second Super Sunday event at Welbeck College on December 16.
All in all, a good day’s work from a hard working squad that created an environment for some strong individual performances. As Coach John Jefferson commented; “A number of players really stepped up today and made a strong case for selection and provided the Coaching Team with a number of very difficult decisions for the next Super Sunday. With the return of a number of players from injury, selecting a starting 15 has become extremely challenging in such a competitive squad.”
Match Report by Lee Slack