OBs v Clifton
Winning run continues
On Sunday Clifton U14s took a depleted squad to OBs for a hastily re-arranged fixture which was in doubt due to the weather until the last minute. Many thanks to Henry and his team for accommodating us and for refereeing what was at times a feisty encounter.
Our plan of playing a much-changed starting XV didn't really work, as many of those we had selected were unavailable. As a result the team which took the field had a pretty familiar look, albeit with some boys playing out of position some of the time.
Our slim resources were further stretched when Hugo took a knock and Callum had to leave at half-time. We ended with 15 players and no subs.
The heavy pitch and cold conditions didn't help either side, and for much of the game our boys looked as though they wished they were at home with the Play Station. Sometimes they played as though they actually were at home with the Play Station.
So the opening quarter started with a lot of dropped balls, some untidy possession and little of the building phases of play which we have recently been so good at. Our scrum was dominant and we were obviously far stronger than OBs in the forwards, but every time we put together a decent passage of play we celebrated by dropping the ball; and with OBs competing well and showing plenty of pace out wide we contrived to make things far more difficult for ourselves than they should have been.
We also showed ourselves completely incapable of leaving the job of speaking to the ref to the captain, all wanting to give Henry the benefit of our impartiality and expertise. This became increasingly tedious, and a less patient ref would have penalised us. We must address this immediately.
Once again it was the big friendly giant Ryley who got us out of jail - showing great power, and a frankly alarming turn of pace, to scorch down the touchline for the first of his two tries. OBs responded with a penalty try of their own, and when the conversion went over we were behind in a game for almost the first time this season.
That didn't last long, and we were soon back in front, courtesy of a try from Matt and a beautiful one from Sam Read, scored in the corner after a flowing move when the ball was moved beautifully along the back-line, just about the only time in the game we really hit our straps.
I'd like to say that after this we settled, but in truth we didn't, and although we pulled further ahead with further tries from Ryley and Matt, and two excellent conversions from Elliott, we never looked as good as we can.
Matt and Sam have described their tries:
Matt: "Ben Jones gave me a really good pass from the scrum and I ran through, stepped the centre and scored. For my second, we were making our way into their 22 with good hands and Dom drew the winger and gave me a really good ball and I sprinted over the try line. I was gutted about letting the team down from a penalty try and tried to make up for it by scoring.
Sam Read: "I can't remember much about it, except there was some good passing along the line and I got the ball and put it down for the try. It was a great team effort"
OBs played a mixed team and today was never about the score so much as the performance. It is, however, a measure of this team that we can beat tough opposition without playing well and know that we can do so much better.
Well done to the boys, and thanks to OBs for their hospitality.
Nick (standing in for Hamish)