Crusaders 23, Holt 10
By Amanda White
A GREAT START TO THE NEW SEASON FOR CRUSADERS UNDER 16's.
It feels like an absolute age. The first game of the season has been a long time coming and Crusaders under 16's are champing at the bit to play their first game of contact. As the wind whips up the rain, 27 Crusaders warm up; passing, tackling, going through moves they're eager to try out under game pressure.
Holt have turned up with 15 players and their coach is concerned about the welfare of his U16's playing a full game without subs against such a large turnout of Crusaders. Crusaders suggest that Holt use our players that will be pitch side awaiting their turn to play. This works out well for everyone as we're keen to give our players equal game time throughout.
The whistle blows and we kick off. Holt run into a green and gold wall that wants to regain the ball. It's like watching dogs let off the lead! Crusaders are too keen, too eager and force penalties that send us backwards. It is great to see a team with this much want and determination to win the ball, but we also need control and the smarts to compete only when the ball is there to be won.
The rising penalty count allows Holt to move closer and closer to Crusaders try line. Despite this, Crusaders defense is solid and although we seem to be playing against ourselves instead of Holt, we don't let them get the upper hand.
Holt have some talented players within their team and manage to exert enough pressure on our play to disrupt our attacks. But we are playing with more composure now, going through the phases and Holt soon start to retreat away from our 22 and back towards theirs. Our forwards put into practice what they're best at and eat up the meters towards Holt's try line. Holt get sucked in trying to halt this trundling tank of a forwards pack and our backs fail to take advantage of a huge over lap. But from a ruck, Fraser breaks through tackles to cat flap to Benjamin who's in support; he takes the ball and scores. Our first try of the season and it's a beauty!
The next try comes from a blitz defense. Crusaders, quick off the back foot of a ruck check Holt with their line speed. Holt are too flat in attack and Elias punishes them with a well timed interception and plants the ball cleanly under the posts
Holt are two tries down now but they fight back well. They are awarded a penalty which they slot well through the posts and are awarded a penalty try when the ball is knocked mid flight from a pass out side the five meter line.
Although there are lots of changes, as players come on and off the pitch, Crusaders effort remains constant. 100% is asked for and 100% is given. The tackles are a joy to watch. Thumping hits from Mason, Fraser, Elias, Daniel, Kingsley and Adam stop Holt players in their tracks, At one point a Holt player tests our wing, Alfie makes the tackle and in a split second he's on his feet, back in position ready to make another. From a kick, Adam chases up field and manages to tackle the Holt player into touch.
There are some great plays in the backs now, but they just fall short of putting points on the board. Benjamin gets held up over the line. Kingsley is stopped just short during a blinding run down the wing, a Holt player managing to snag him just before the score.
But our forwards don't have that trouble! At one point they go it alone; ignoring their No 10. They smell a try and go for the line, Mason powers over for the score.
Then, when Holt fumble the ball in a line out, and before they can react; Tom scoops up the ball and blasts his way over for the forwards second.
In all a great day of rugby for everyone. Crusaders form a tunnel and cheer Holt and thank them for a good days rugby and head for the changing rooms. We now look forward to meeting them, and the rest of Norfolk in the 10's next weekend.