Undies complete Unbeaten Season
"In November 2016 a crack rugby team, convicted of a crime they did not commit, were sentenced to extended Play Rehearsal and double maths. They promptly escaped to the Junior Changing Room where they were transformed into an elite group of rugby heroes. If you have to win the final game of the season, if no-one else can help you, and if you can find them....maybe you can pick - The A-TEAM."
(cue awesome music/commando rolls etc)
The Undies A-TEAM
On Wednesday afternoon Belhaven Hill's U11As came through a bruising game to win against Fettes.
Every season comes down to individual matches and this fantastic season, like the last, came down to the toughest game against the strongest opponents.
Fettes were huge.
They had two boys in their backline who would have been the biggest in Belhaven Hill's 1stXV.
They had three others faster than any boy in the Undies side.
Fettes were a really scary prospect.
However, Belhaven Hill boys are made of sterner stuff.
We had spent much of the last few weeks since the seismic encounter between the two sides at the Cargilfied 7s preparing mentally and physically to tackle these threats.
A gameplan had been concocted and meticulously rehearsed to take these key players out of the game effectively and legally. The boys had worked incredibly hard in training to shore up the defence to take on the onslaught of the Fettes boys and to sharpen the attack to take advantage of any mistakes and to keep pressure on the visitors. We knew that we would concede tries but were confident that we could limit Fettes' scoring opportunities and score more in return to win the day.
Mr Townshend's shrill whistle signalled the start of the game and the Blue Hooped Heroes flew into the fray. A powerful pack of Tom Leckie, Oliver Reynolds and Thomas Dewar ahead of Captain Campbell Mack and Jonty Fraser gave the go-forward for backs Freddie Jack, Joe Townshend, Max Thomson, Archie de la Hey, Freddie Stuart and William Gale. Wilfred Tomlyn and Tom Hovell warmed a chilly bench.
The tackling was superb with every boy putting in the hits on the big lads. The defensive line pressed forward and took the sting out of the Fettes runs before they could build a head of steam. The crush defence forced errors from the visitors and the well-organised Belhaven backline was in position to expolit these mistakes. Turnover ball led to opportunities and, when the forwards had sucked in the defence with short balls off the ruck, the ball was spun wide into space. Super approach work by William posted Oliver through a small gap to score the first try after four minutes. The Undies were in business. Fettes struck back soon after as the fastest boy in U11 rugby picked up a loose ball and streaked through for a score against the run of play.
Freddie Jack struck back to restore the lead before Thomas Dewar crashed over to extend it.
Jonty finished the half with a fine intercept try to put the Undies into half-time with a good cushion.
Half-Time Score - Belhaven Hill U11A 4 - 1 Fettes U11A
With the Blue Hooped Heroes coach ensnared in a gripping U11B match on the adjoining pitch there was no opportunity for an in-depth team talk.
However, the South African Assistant's "Ja, ja, ja - get it done my boets!" chat seemed to have the desired effect and the boys lined up ready for the second half with a clear idea of what to expect and what needed to be done.
Fettes threw everything at them scoring quickly through one of their giants soon after the interval. Freddie Stuart responded straight away with a jinky run before Thomas Dewar ran the Crazy Buffalo up the blindside perfectly to crash over. Freddie Jack ghosted over for his second too.
Fettes replied with a well worked score right of the posts. 7 - 4 against a side like Fettes with 6 minutes to play is no lead at all and it took Captain Mack's perfect short ball run off a ruck to give the Undies a little breathing space.
This tactic had been so effective throughout the game as it sucked in Fettes' most effective defenders who would otherwise have been breaking up attacks out wide. A big strong boy coming across the back of the ruck at pace is very difficult to defend against and the Fettes guards could not hold on to the powerful Undies Captain.
The Undies defence was outstanding with tackling of incredible bravery and jackling over the ball that forced turnover after turnover from isolated attackers. This committed and organised defence has been a hallmark of Undies teams over the last few years but this group did it better than any before them. All the boys really put their hand up to be counted in a fantastic defence of their tryline. The hits flew in on the big boys and, although they were often swatted aside, they bounced back up and tried again.
It was utterly superb.
It showed the boys' pride in their shirt, their team and their school.
It also showed how they were willing to put it all on the line, time and again, for each other.
Fettes showed just what a dangerous side they are with a super final try in the very last play of the game to end the contest 8 - 5 in the Undies' favour.
We had done it!
Final Score: Belhaven Hill U11A 8 - 5 Fettes U11A
Man of the Match: Joe Townshend; A mailed fist in a silk glove. Joe was an immovable rock over the ball. Joe made more turnovers than any other player and was right up there near (if not at) the top of the tackling charts. He has been a superb leader in the backline throughout the season and played entirely unselfishly to bring the best out of his teammates in this crucial match. He should be very proud of his efforts in a wonderful victory.
Coach's Notes: We have had some belters out on the Undies Pitch over the years and this was right up there with the very best matches. These were two good teams going at it hammer and tongs. The skill level showed by the home side was outstanding and their execution of a complex gameplan was quite brilliant. Tackles were made and turnovers won with ruthless efficiencey and the passing and straightening of the line was first rate. The awareness of when to run short or to spin it wide showed how good these boys are at making decisions on the hoof.
However, what was most pleasing was the way that the boys played as a team in this game and in this entire season.
There have been no stars, no glory boys, no passengers - just a solid group of mates mucking in and working for each other.
I am so proud of you all.
Well done to all involved!