Clifton v Hornets
By Nicholas Sproull
When Clifton U16s travelled to WSM to play Hornets we knew this would be a tricky game. Once again we were missing several key players and Hornets had been revitalised by an influx of new players. Throw into the mix a 4g pitch, a lively home crowd and persistent drizzle and an upset might have been on the cards.
Those fears increased after a first half in which we dominated territory but failed to capitalise, being let down by some sloppy handling and our usual inability to stay onside. Conditions were difficult, but rather than keeping it tight and using short sympathetic passes we seemed to think we were playing in the Hong Kong 7s and too often tried long passes into midfield which more often than not we dropped. Our only score of the half came from a typical direct run from George and a beautiful offload and pick-up from Ben. We promptly undid the good work by conceding a soft try in Hornets' only attack of the half, meaning we turned round level at 5-5.
As it turned out we needn't have worried because the usual Clifton fight backlash started immediately the game resumed. We were now like a different team: the scrum started to get a nudge on; the passes started going to hand; and our runners escaped left and right. Whereas we had been lateral, now we were direct and we duly cut Hornets to ribbons. Try of the day was scored by Kit who, pressed into service on the wing, showed plenty of gas to take his opposite man on the outside, kick ahead and win the chase to the touchdown. His days as a hooker are numbered.
Credit to Hornets for giving us a good game and never giving up. The final score was 46-5.
Last year we lost only one game, but played some teams who didn't really test us. This year we have deliberately arranged fixtures against the strongest opposition we could find. We knew we wouldn't win every game and we haven't. But we have competed well in all the games we've lost, and stuck together as a team which plays for each other. The challenge is to develop our skills and try and get everyone healthy for the big games. If we can do both we haven't seen a team yet who can beat us.