Rugby and Hockey against Mowden Hall: Reports
After a long 2 ½ hour journey, the Belhaven boys arrived at Mowden Hall full of confidence on the back of a very successful 7s tournament.
RFU rules dictate that U15 games in England should be about fun and development rather than winning and losing. As such, we were informed that tries would not be recorded. Adhering to the RFU decision, I could not possibly report the result, other than to say the Belhaven boys crossed the try line a number of times more than our Northumberland friends. Again, whilst not wanting to report tries scored, I can say that a total of 8 Belhaven tries were disallowed.
There were some promising runs from Ouday and Arthur, who are new to the game. To develop more as a squad, strength in depth is needed, so reducing the number of Belhaven players on the pitch and giving runs out to others, who might not ordinarily start a game, helped us to take something away from the day.
Tries – Ollie, Hector (2), Charlie (2), Rollo (2)
Man of the Match – Hector (for biting his lip)
Belhaven Hill 7 – 9 Mowden Hall
A thrilling encounter took place on a balmy, beautiful afternoon in East Lothian. Mowden had kindly travelled from Newcastle to play in this lively game of sevens.
In a chaotic first two quarters many tries were scored as both teams attacked with great fluidity and at pace. Tackles were missed and defensive lines were at sixes and sevens as the score ended even at half time. A combination of some impressive solo runs from Archie and Charlie J led to two scores in the corner. A greater team effort, in which stylish offloads were made in contact to allow the ball to travel through hands, led to tries for Charlic C, Harry and Monty. Blake just squeezed one down in the corner at the end but the referee (me) denied him the try as the TMO deemed it to be held up on the line.
The second half saw a step up in intensity from both sides. Fewer tackles were missed and more rucks were committed to, yet the scoring continued in its back and forth fashion. It was not until a few minor injuries led to players coming off for Belhaven that gaps started to appear in their back line. Mowden took full advantage by exploiting space and scoring a couple of tries without reply. It was a resilient effort in parts, but the boys needed to show a little more application throughout the whole match and not in fits and starts.
This week saw our visitors from England come up to play us in a highly competitive fixture. It was yet again a beautiful day for rugby with the sun shining and the wind staying away. After some good phase play, Belhaven was to strike first through Harry going in with a powerful run, although the kick was missed. Mowden came racing straight back into it with a score of their own after some tight passing and strong running. Belhaven was next to score with a try from Fin, who was on fine form for the rest of the game and showed some great agility in his ball carrying. Belhaven extended their lead with another strong run from Johnny to go in for his second score. Mowden, howeve,r increased the intensity and with some more effective ball carrying, they scored the next two tries before half time.
Half-time score: Belhaven 19 – 21 Mowden
Belhaven were enjoying their rugby this time round and after some ebb and flow in the match, FIn went under the posts to score and put Belhaven back in the lead. However, straight from the kick-off, Belhaven over-chased and again the big ball carrier from Mowden shot through for a fine solo run and score. Belhaven were again two points behind. What followed for the next 15 minutes was end-to-end stuff. Turnovers were abundant at the rucks but neither team could find the breakthrough. With two minutes remaining, Belhaven again attacked and Harry went in for his second score with a powerful run. With only a minute left Belhaven had to defend for their lives and did so effectively managing the game to a victorious conclusion.
Final Score: Belhaven 31 – 28 Mowden
Player of the match: Shared between Harry and Fin
Coach’s summary: This was another improvement from the previous week. The heart of this team has never been in question; the structures are now taking shape, and this is paying dividends. It was very pleasing for the form 2 boys involved (William, Eck, Archie, Alfie, Rafe, and Tommy) to all show real quality and determination as well. The small things which individuals can take responsibility for, such as working on the ground after being tackled, rucking with intensity, and tackling to the ground, have all improved. They are not yet perfect. It is great to get a win for morale, the performance improvement, though, was the most pleasing for me. The best part, they can still get better.
N.B. matches will now be scored as in senior rugby (5 points for a try, 2 for a conversion)
After a long 2-hour journey to Newcastle the boys were raring to go and wasted no time getting ready and into preparation for the game ahead. Despite the slight change of teams from an A's and B’s side to an U11 and U10 side respectively, the boys persevered and did well to adapt to the situation. The change of teams meant the U10s had just 8 players and thus there would be no subs. Even so, the boys were up to the task and played the 30 minutes with dedication and continued effort.
The game was to start with a Mowden Hall kick off to which a skilful winger zipped through our lines and scored a try. Undeterred, Geordie repaid the favour to Mowden scoring three tries in quick succession, closely followed by two more by Tristan. These tries were supported by ferocious tackling both by Geordie and Tristan, which allowed the boys to regain possession on numerous occasions. In the first half it was a close contest between the teams but Belhaven’s very own dual chiefs of communications in the form of Lukas and Aubrey kept the team coordinated in every set play and ensured a solid defensive line. Outstanding supporting lines from Bertie and the blistering pace of Tommy meant that by the end of the first half Belhaven were up 8-6.
In the second half I gave the task of focusing on both passing and counter-rucking. A message that was clearly received by Kaspar as he went on a rampage through the rucks regaining possession on multiple occasions. Kaspar was then joined by Fergus who found a skill in ripping the ball from his opponents several times. The U10s provided a masterclass of offloads in the 2nd half of the game which meant there was no slowing down for the Belhaven side. Mowden provided tough competition and made a comeback several times throughout the game, but Tristan’s so called ‘ballerina feet’ (as coined by the team), Geordie's brute force and Tommy’s quick feet led to a well-deserved victory for the Belhaven side.
Score: Belhaven Hill 15 – 10 Mowden Hall
Tries: Geordie x7, Tristan x5, Tommy x2, Fergus x1
Men of the match: Geordie / Tristan
Today the 2nds headed south into the wilds of Northumbria to play Mowden Hall. After a long bus trip, we arrived in good time for an active, effective warm-up which meant that we were ready to go as soon as the whistle sounded.
This week I’d set the girls two targets: width (again) and quick play.
For the first seven or eight minutes, we held our shape very well and got the balls out wide and up the flanks a number of times with our skipper for the match, Lottie F., directing things from central defence and distributing the ball well. Liv and Elktra, up front, were a constant threat and we almost immediately got the ball into their circle and had a shot. In fact we spent a lot of time in their circle but just couldn’t manage to slot the ball home.
Eventually, our shape did abandon us, as girls forgot (or ignored) their positions and drifted into the middle of the pitch, and the game got a bit scrappy for a while. After the first quarter we chatted about this and then, for the most part, order was restored.
Maya was active and effective in midfield, carrying the ball well, reacting quickly to the whistle and turnovers and delivering it to Elektra and Liv up front. Liv worked forward well but also fell back to collect the ball. Iona was determined in defence as right defence but was also (overly, perhaps) willing to move into midfield to stay in the action.
The scoresheet remained untroubled for three of the four quarters leading me, in the final break, to beg the girls to be more aggressive in the circle and secure at least one goal. After all, we had had over twenty scoring opportunities, spending long periods camped in their circle and earning PC after PC, with no reward.
It seemed to work. Just a minute into the final quarter, Maya gave a super cross into the circle and Elektra pounced, driving it into the back of the goal. A few minutes later, she did the same again. Whew!
I must also comment on Joury’s excellent discipline throughout the match, holding her position and distributing well. Indeed, she was instrumental in one of my favourite moments when, from the left flank, she passed it all the way back to Lottie (who was tremendous all match) who then smashed it upfield to her midfield who carried it all the way into the opposition circle - proper hockey, that.
Victoire and Blanca both did well too and I am very impressed with their work-rate, determination, enthusiasm and progress.
In summary? Well, we mostly achieved our first target, to get wide and at times achieved the second, to play quickly but most importantly, the girls had fun and continued to improve. Well done and enjoy the half term break, girls.
Final Score: Belhaven Hill 2 - 0 Mowden Hall
Player of the Match: Shared by Maya for her quick play and Elektra for her effort and goals.