EAST MIDLANDS U18’s 0 v NLD U18’s 36
WEDNESDAY 22 OCTOBER 2014
AT PETERBOROUGH R.U.F.C
A tortuous drive for many down the A1 at peak time proved worthwhile after a resounding victory for the NLD boys against East Midlands last Wednesday.
The squad has become tight-knit over recent weeks after numbers were depleted by various injuries and withdrawals and this was evident in a keenly contested match.
For much of the first 15 minutes, NLD were scrambling defensively but effectively against an East Mids squad containing a number of large physical players. This combination of stubborn defence combined with admittedly inaccurate final passes and less than precise handling kept the match scoreless until on 20 minutes, James Newman was on the receiving end of a short pass to go over the line for the first try.
The try was converted to give NLD a 7-0 lead.
A few minutes later, after good driving work by the forwards, Tom Winning showed good determination and strength to force his way over the line for a try, which went unconverted.
A period of concentrated pressure from East Midlands followed and the NLD side did little to alleviate the situation by playing far too much rugby in their own 22. That said, the continued doggedness of their defending meant no points were conceded and the pressure was finally relieved after the forwards forced a turnover ball inside the 5 metre line.
Harry Graham’s subsequent clearance not only made touch, but having clipped an East Mids player in flight, NLD were awarded the line out and play was driven back deep into East Mids territory.
Harry was to prove a thorn in the side of the East Mids team all night with his sniping runs and accurate distribution and the go forward play of the NLD had much to do with the impetus Harry provided from ther base of the scrum and break downs.
From broken play approaching the break, and a little against the run of play, Elliot Henry jinked beyond the gain line and showed good acceleration to isolate the East Mids Full Back before providing a crisp pass for Ed Bloodworth to finish under the posts.
Phil Fletcher duly converted to move the score along to 19-0 as the Half Time whistle blew.
The Second Half was only a minute old when Max Hodson of the NLD was harshly shown the Yellow Card for a tip tackle.
The perceived injustice of that decision seemed to galvanise the squad and Tom Winning scored his second try after 5 minutes from a mazy long run through the East Mids defence to bring the score to 26-0. Phil Fletcher added the extra 2 points by converting.
Following a rare foray forward by the Esat Mids backs, Elliot Henry was involved in a nasty clash of heads, which resulted in a lengthy stoppage and intervention by the NLD Physio.
It was clear that Elliot had suffered a substantial knock to the head and he was eventually taken to hospital after efficient and comprehensive treatment and observation by the Physio, Carole, and the Peterborough Ambulance crew.
Happily, Elliot was released from hospital later and will attend QMC for further treatment. The best wishes of everyone involved in the match were expressed and Elliot should be back playing once he has been given a clean bill of health following his treatment and recuperation.
Once the game resumed, NLD picked up very much where they left off before the stoppage and, after a number of phases were completed, beginning inside the NLD 22, Tom Winning broke the defensive line and was able to offload to Callum Slack in support who ran in the try for another score.
That try went unconverted, leaving the score at 31-0.
Sustained pressure exerted by the NLD forwards continued to draw errors from the tiring East Mids side and it was inevitable that fatigue would create space in the later stages of the game.
This was starkly illustrated when the NLD pack drove forward using several phases to suck in the East Mids defence. This eventually created sufficient space behind the gain line for Alex Scott to throw a long miss pass out to the left wing where Oliver Davidson was the eventual beneficiary.
This try, which was unconverted, proved to be the final score and the match finished at NLD 36 v 0 East Midlands.
It was a comprehensive victory helped somewhat by a disjointed and stuttering East Mids performance, but that should not detract from the squad’s achievement in topping their side of the draw in the Championship games.