Clifton at BJC 7s
It’s not often you get the chance to exact revenge on a team on the same day as they have already beaten you.
How our boys would have loved to have played Old Patesians again straight away after drawing on that fateful Sunday at Hartpury College, or Cleve after the Combination final.
But just such an opportunity presented itself to our 12-man squad at the Bristol Junior Combination Sevens Tournament held on a sunny day on rock-hard pitches at Keynsham.
Having made a bright start to the tournament with comfortable wins against Broad Plain and Clevedon (Ryley and McKenzie didn’t repeat the ‘matter meets antimatter’ experiment of the Nando’s Cup), we came to our last group game against Winscombe.
Feeling pretty confident going into the match, we then had a rude awakening as they outsmarted us at the breakdown and burned us for pace out wide to brush us aside fairly easily and finish top of the group.
It meant we finished runners-up in our pool and therefore had to face a big and quick looking Keynsham side who had topped their group.
We decided that our problems against Winscombe – apart from the fact that they had a national schools sprint champion – were that we were too slow in closing them down and committed too many men to the breakdown meaning we were left exposed out wide.
So, we went into the Keynsham game intending to address these issues – and how we did!
Owen’s line speed was outstanding and he led the way as we cut off runners before they got going. And we turned this pressure into points, as the saying goes. We ran in around five tries (sorry I don’t have the stats) to progress without problem into the final.
Once again we were to face those speed-merchants of Winscombe and it was time to see whether the game plan we had developed as a group (good advice from Dave Hilton especially) could bring us a different result to that in the group stage.
Right from the off our defence was up on them, and this paid off when Callum reached up to intercept a pass. There was nothing between our flying hooker and the tryline but 50 metres of open field.
If we could have stopped time and run a book on whether Callum would make it or not against their quicks, I doubt many of us would have bet on him getting there.
However, Callum had other ideas and began to gallop for the line with players in hot pursuit. A bit of weaving kept the chasers away and as we all jumped up and down deliriously on the touchline he scored under the posts. A successful conversion gave us the perfect start and we could sense that Winscombe were a bit stunned.
The smiles were wiped from our faces as they responded with a try, but we kept our poise in defence and posed them problems when we had the ball.
Then Matt got to work and before we knew it he had scored a hat-trick of tries with stunning breaks through the middle of their defensive line.
And so it finished 26-5.
Every member of the squad (Ryley, Shane, Callum, Ben Jones, Matt, Owen, Sam Read, Sam Sproull, Herbie, Dom, Monty and Hugo) played their part in the tournament and most especially in the final. And thanks to George for coming along to support his team-mates.
As the boys lifted their trophy on the terrace of the Keynsham clubhouse, we contented parents supped Thatchers Gold in the sunshine to round off a great season.