U16s v Old Pates
By Nicholas Sproull
Clifton U16s had never beaten Old Pates - they beat us heavily on our only visit to Cheltenham a few years ago, drew with us in the county cup final two years ago and beat us by two points in the same fixture last year. This time though, Clifton were at close to full strength, and on a dank day revenge hung heavy in the air.
Pates started strongly, making the most of the slope and forced Clifton to absorb some sustained pressure. Pates have always played pretty rugby and have loads of gas out wide, but when their thrusts down the centre were repelled they were forced to kick a penalty. This was never going to be a game decided by penalties, and we were quite happy to concede the three points.
That was to be the only time Pates were ahead. Clifton came roaring back and for most of the next 55 minutes were clearly the better side, whether playing uphill or down. Led expertly by George, who consistently broke free in midfield, but ably supported by the rest of the team, in particular the half-backs, Clifton took the game to Pates, scoring a number of well-worked tries and generally over-powering them. Whenever Pates looked to shift the ball, which to their credit they continued to do, the Clifton speed in defence (to call it line speed would be an exaggeration) closed them down and they rarely looked like scoring. Indeed their only try came from short range.
Clifton took their foot off the gas for a period in the second half, but our defence held firm and we had the last word, with a sprint to the line from Sennen. We won going away.
The game was generally played in good spirit, but once again our discipline let us down at times. This is something we will concentrate on in the coming weeks, along with our line-outs and defensive line.
Thanks to Pates for their excellent hospitality. We will return the favour later in the season, and we will expect them to give us another good game.