Holt U15s 34-7 Crusaders U15s
By Amanda White
Holt was the destination for our inaugural foray this season and as we look to open our account the heavens seek to open theirs; we warm up in a deluge preparing to face what will likely be a difficult fixture; we have lost by more than 100 points here in the past!
The whistle blows and it’s immediately apparent that we were facing a side that have the luxury of playing together at school as well as club level. The passing is practiced and accurate, but in these early stages the Crusader’s defence is effective in keeping Holt behind the gain line. Phase after phase pass and although we are tackling well (epitomised by David poleaxing the opposition prop after 5 minutes) and staying competitive in the ruck, the absence of Holt errors means we are struggling to get any meaningful possession.
Eventually this possession tells and with 7 minutes on the clock a rare missed tackle allows a black shirt to breach the Crusaders’ dam, they fail to convert and we trail 5 – 0.
The rest of the first half is both competitive and entertaining as both teams test their opposition’s defensive resolve. David, Archi, Joseph and Josh batter away at the Holt defensive line but we can’t seem to get a break; James, Tom, Jordan and Josh R use quick passes to try and find holes, but again they are thwarted. As the half draws to a close, and arguably against the run of play, we concede twice more, neither scores are converted and we end the half 15 – 0 down, but very much alive.
At half time, as we struggle to come to terms with what feels like an ill-deserved deficit, heads are a little low. We decide to treat this second half like a new game, and as we run out of the changing room for round 2, the determination is palpable.
The whistle blows again and we start well, looking like the side most likely to score. Then, after a scuffle in midfield, Will is sent to the ‘sin bin’ and as we are forced to play with 14 men, our momentum is cut short. Depleted, we are brave and resolute, but inevitably Holt make the extra man pay and we concede 3 tries before Will re-joins the ranks. Suddenly the difference is 34 points and we are wobbling.
But we’re not done. With parity reinstated the tide begins to turn, suddenly it is Holt that are struggling to keep pace with a reinvigorated Crusaders 15. The Holt pack starts to go backwards in the scrum, their #10 seems to have less time to think, they start to kick with increasing frequency desperate to clear their lines; it’s late but we’re starting to think there might be something in this for us.
Eventually the Holt resistance cracks and after some fantastic work from our pack, David bundles over to open our account and Jordan converts with style. With points finally on the board we take the ascendancy and after some fantastic and committed running from Archi, Lewis, Tom and Ben in particular, we come desperately close to adding to our tally on more than one occasion; frustratingly we just can’t seem finish it off.
Then, with only minutes remaining, Josh R makes a break from the melee and it looks like our endeavour will finally pay dividends. He finds a turn of pace that belies the 58 minutes of Rugby in his legs and the desperate Holt pursuit looks fruitless; having covered half the pitch he finds the line at the same time as a last-ditch tackle comes in from a black shirt. The ball is spilt but it looks like downward pressure to us and we look to the referee for a decision. Heartbreakingly he waves it off, ‘no try’.
This is the last significant action of the game and the referee draws stumps at 34 – 7.
The score line disguises a spirited and creditable performance from this team and there were notable performances across the pitch. Matt did a fantastic job deputising for Will K at #2 (get well soon Will!), Harry had an impressive debut, Archi and David in particular attacked with mercilessness throughout, and Josh R put on his usual tackling masterclass; ultimately thought the Man of the Match performance came from Ben for his impeccable decision making and faultless discipline. Well done to all.