CRUSADERS FIND CONFIDENCE IN CONTINUITY
By Amanda White
Crusaders U16s 26 - 17 Southwold U16s
The last couple of weeks have been a real tester for Crusaders under 16's. They've played against three extremely talented, seasoned teams. It's served to highlight our weak spots and provide us with the areas we need to work on most. Training has been ruthless, unforgiving; testing our levels of endurance both mentally and physically.
Today we want to focus on getting the basics right. To build a strong platform from which we can provide some continuity to our game. Southwold are the perfect opposition to test this out. They've an excellent youth set up and are a well drilled team.
Crusaders kick off and get lucky as the ball bounces off a Southwold player and goes into touch. We win the line out and our forwards set about driving the ball up field, Southwold's defense is stout, but it can't hold. We're a bit to eager to get the points and fail to keep hold of the ball as we go over the try line. From the scrum we win the ball and pick and go; Mason has the support and he's over with the try. Charlie slots the conversion.
From the kick off we go again, building a platform from a strong base from which we can attack. Southwolds defense is sound this time. Time and time again they put in the tackles and manage to keep us just short of the score. But our determination and aggression in the breakdown shines through to bear fruit once more. Close to the try line Mason twists out of a tackle and is over for his second of the day.
At half time we make changes. The first half was a brutal contest for possession, it suddenly steps up a gear in the second. A real fight this. As soon as a player is tackled the fight is on for the ball. Fraser manages four turn overs through great speed and technique in jackals for the ball.
Dean smashes through tackles and hits anything that moves with a ball in it's hand. Tom's bull dozing ball carries gain us huge territory.
It's not just our forwards that are having a great game. Adam at No 10 is feeding good ball to his backs and they're managing to find space despite the constant pressure from Southwold. Adam's also testing the space behind Southwold's solid defense, with little grubbers that constantly probe for a weakness.
Southwold come back with a strong set of attacks. Relentless, they break through more than one tackle to plant two tries past our defenses. We answer in kind with two more tries of our own. One from Connor as he powers over after strong running, a side step and a drive over the line. The other, a real team effort in the forwards. They drive up into Southwolds 22 and keep them there for the best part of the second half. It's only Southwold's steadfast, solid defense that manages to keep Crusaders out. Time and time again, Crusaders turn over possession to regain the ball and go for the try line once more. Constantly going though the phases, continuity pays off and for the third time today Mason's over for his hat trick.
Southwold have the ball in the last seconds of play, but they opt to kick the ball out of play. It's been a brutal, physical game and both sides are glad to hear the referees whistle to end the game.
Full credit to Southwold for a superb game of rugby and we look forward to playing them again at their grounds. A deserved win for Crusaders U16's and a real lesson in what can be achieved when the basics are done well and when we can implement some continuity to our game.