Last night saw the first run out for the latest NLD U17’s squad at Newark, following the initial training session on Monday evening.
Head Coach, Nathan Smith, encouraged the players to keep things simple in light of the lack of familiarity within the new squad and challenged them to play with confidence and pride.
Early exchanges saw NLD make good ground only to turn the ball over at the breakdown; an area of some concern throughout the game. From the turnover, East Midlands broke down the right and, after some indifferent tackling, moved the ball right across to the NLD left flank where they scored in the corner.
This early set back seemed to galvanise the NLD team and, after good carrying by the back row, the scores were soon level. The forwards worked hard at maintaining the pressure on the East Midlands defence and continued to break the gain line time and again.
The backs, despite the unfamiliar pairings, continued to put the ball nicely through the hands, although a little more composure under pressure would have yielded more scores.
Nevertheless, continued pressure from the forwards and some incisive breaks by the backs led to a number of scores before half time, giving NLD a comfortable lead.
The second half brought numerous changes in the NLD side and East Midlands took advantage of the evident early lack of continuity to make inroads into the NLD lead. Some indifferent tackling enabled the visitors to bring the score back to 29-22 at one point.
Gradually, the superior fire power within the NLD squad saw a restoration of their dominance on the scoreboard, and the team ran out worthy winners at 36-22 come the final whistle.
The Coaching Team expressed their pleasure at the result, and the squad celebrated the success while acknowledging there was plenty of room for improvement.