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Playing with pride.

Playing with pride.

Andy Horner19 Apr 2022 - 21:19
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Sometimes, you just have to hold your hands up and admit you were beaten by a better team.

Regardless of whether decisions went for or against you at the breakdown, or whether the ball just didn't bounce in your favour, there are times when you are just outplayed. Sunday's trip to Derby was one of those times.

We were short on numbers, so the team that travelled over became a hybrid U16/17 team. Making it exciting as a precursor for next year's Colts. Derby did the same, so it really was game on.

The teams tested each others mettle from the start. Derby deploying some huge units in the pack, and using them as battering rams. At times a David and Goliath-esque picture being painted in front of us as our 5' 10" forwards were throwing two into the tackle to stop the Derby 6' 5" number 17. Fair play to our boys who didn't back down, but Derby were winning the early collisions.

It was our boys who first troubled the scoreboard though, some excellent defence, a turnover and some slick hands and running lines meant we were able to create the space and dot down over the line. Derby fired back though, with their forwards gaining momentum, we had to throw more into the channels outside the breakdown, leaving our backline exposed. This time it was Derby who scythed through, we still held the lead though with them not adding the extras.

The battle was physical and the tackles were juddering, Derby were starting to switch up the gears, and their hits on our boys were beginning to tell. Our runners were becoming isolated, handling became panicked and we were spilling the ball under pressure. Derby's dominance in the scrum became a platform for them to attack from. Unsurprisingly they took the lead only a few minutes after they registered their first try on the scoreboard.

Once Derby had the lead, they didn't let it go, and we fell agonisingly short on a number of occasions. We did butcher a couple of two on one overlaps, we did have runners wanting to do everything themselves at times, but we also dropped off in support. Derby were clinical and took their chances, perhaps a couple may have been chalked off with a TMO, but on the whole Derby were a better structured team, who used their assets well.

The final score, 45 - 19 to Derby, a deserved win, perhaps a bigger margin than it should have been, but a win nonetheless.

Our boys played with pride, they didn't back down, and they didnt roll over. There really was a huge size difference, but we showed no fear, particularly with the U16 forwards who put themselves in the firing line. Billy in particular needs a mention, his tackle count was through the roof as he put in one of his best performances in a green and white shirt. Jack on the wing, he backed himself and committed, despite being crunched in the tackle time and time again. As coaches, we couldn't have been prouder.

The takeaways from the game? We have an outstanding bunch of lads who play for each other, put their bodies on the line for each other, and respect each other. There is some raw talent out there, and whilst the public school kids may have the advantage of playing and training more often than the majority of our boys, there is no or very little difference in the ability and skills across the board. None of our U16's looked out of place in that game, and next year's Colts is a very exciting prospect.

Thank you to Derby for hosting, and good luck to them in their NLD cup run. Thank you also to our U17's who played with us, some quality shifts put in there.

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