North Walsham U16s 34 - 10 Crusaders U16s
By Amanda White
The last time we played North Walsham it was a very close affair. Real nail biting, edge of your seat, end to end rugby. Crusaders U16's are looking forward to a similar game today, as North Walsham never disappoint.
We start the game well. We're struck in our own 22, but we're managing comfortably to stem the flow of powerful ball carries Walsham are throwing at our defenses. But all of a sudden, a poor tackle opens up space and Walsham are over with a try.
Crusaders suck it up and run back out to even up the score. It doesn't come our way as we're forced back once more towards our 22. We're competing in the contest for the ball, but not with the same aggression and verve as we have been. North Walsham take advantage of this lack luster, and break through more tackles that send us scrambling back towards our own try line. The inevitable try comes and we find ourselves back under the posts once more.
We're far better than this. Tackling is an area we pride ourselves on, but today this seems to be our Achilles heel. North Walsham are a good team, but we're making them look far better. When we have the ball we seem to panic, forcing errors; rather than take control and go through the phases.
We don't end the half without any response. We finally secure the ball well enough and show what we're capable of. Benjamin at No 10 beats the first defender and gets the ball moving through his backs. They've got the smarts to get the ball wide to Antony, a side step and he's over with a beautiful try.
We go into the second half with points on the board and a lot of work to do.
During half time we've had time to regroup and take a look at ourselves. Something gives. We're a lot sharper now and you can see the difference in our game play. North Walsham are not getting nowhere near as much possession and when they have we're scrapping to get it back.
The game is stopped immediately by the referee at one point when Callum is tackled during an kick for space and is concussed from a bad fall.
Rain starts to fall and the game resumes on another pitch. Crusaders have regained their fire now and fight even harder for possession, pressurizing; forcing North Walsham to make errors and regain the ball. Our forwards secure the ball and go through the phases giving Benjamin the time and space to launch another attack, he snakes through, side steps and has the power to take the tackler with him as he scores our second try of the day.
The game fizzles out with neither team getting the upper hand. Crusaders look hungry for another try but instead of keeping hold of the ball we give away possession through poor decision making and forced errors.
It wasn't the game we hoped for today. The mood of the weather and look of our mascot Wesley's face summed up our performance on the day. There were some flashes of brilliance, some glimpses of what we can achieve; but it also highlighted that there's lot's to work on in the meantime.
Man of the match, Benjamin for proving we can step up to the plate when we show a bit of tenacity and have a little belief in ourselves.
A big thank you to North Walsham's coaches, parents and our Jo Stribling for reacting so quickly and looking after Callum on the day.