Friendly home v Bracknell
first game for this group - all squad used....
The first game of any season is always a step into the unkown, but more so when you combine 2 age groups.
With mixed expectations, we knew we had a core of a team and a play it simple game plan.
The format was adjusted to allow all the squads to blood players, though we had a sqaud of 22 to their 30, and would end up playing 2 thirds into the wind.
Coach Dan asked for commitment as structures would come later, and there was plenty of spirit displayed today, and often in extreme defence situations. Very pleasing!
Playing into the breeze, The game started brightly and from continued possession the forwards carried well and from front foot ball, we worked the overlap for Ben Mitchell to cross out left. Freddie Lewis adding the extras, off the post, 7-0.
Bracknell though hit back almost immediately, and from pressure in our 22, and then a tap penalty, they went over and converted, 7-0. We though were able to hit back and from another forward rumble, Sam Harris crashed over from close in (and was immediatley substituted), extras again added this time from the right by Freddie, 14-7.
Bracknell were intent to play and one back play saw them release a man out wide left, and converted from the touchline for 14-14.
Now with the wind, and full squad rolling on we built some pressure but couldnt finish. They were targeting the ruck more and slowing or pinching ball. In this period a rare exursion by bracknell to our 22 saw them sythe through the centres under the posts, for 14-21. We had our chances with Jack Barnes seemingly crashing over only to be adjudged to have lost control of the ball.
Alex Dickson returning after a few seasons out fielded 2 high balls well and built in confidence. Chris Coyne was awarded our first yellow card of the season when his spider man hands failed him on an intercept attempt, judged as a slap down (and rightly too). Though we only had to serve 2 minutes to the break given the friendly fixture. (His penalty was meant to be the jersey wash duty, but being on his bike got him out of it, this week).
Into the final third and lungs burning, and players now tiring we put in an almighty defensive shift. They cut holes again through the centres but we thwarted a number, one notable chase back by Zac wont be bettered all season, outstanding tackle under his own posts. (Topping an exceptional tackling display from him all day - NZ heritage shining through).
As we pressed hard, Bracknell broke clear for a try largely against the run of play. 14-28. But we kept on battling in defence and attack, one Sam Harris hand off lifting the team, for Matt worman to dap down from close range. Josh couldnt add the extras but put in a brave tackling display from 10. Abdul had a few barreling runs, one upto half way with only a high tackle stopping him.
Marlow finished on the attack, but final score 19-28. (3 tries to 4)
We get to play them again in the league.
Most importantly the effort was outstanding today from the full squad. We were largely a scratch team after not many sessions together, and today represented our biggest gathering. Things look really positive for the season ahead.
Bits (as always) to work on, but really really promising.
Freddie Lewis 2