Game: Quarter-final Waterfall Cup
Opponents: Old Emanuel
Score Reeds Weybridge 44 ( 8 tries – Alfie (2), Andre (2), Conor, Dan, Ethan, Robbie – 2 conversions – Ethan) Old Emanuel 12 (2 tries, 1 conversion)
It is often said that games are won on the training pitch and this Sunday’s game was an excellent example in point. On Friday the team had a 1 hour training session known as the Captain’s Run. The session concentrated on discussion of the game plan and working on 2 aspects of the game. The first was JT’s favoured two line attack and Tim’s protection of the ball and good feed to the No 9 at the ruck/scrum. On Sunday morning, for about 20 minutes Tim worked on scrummage drills to iron out a few small kinks. It was expected that Old Emanuel would bring heavy solid forwards and play the game through the pack.
Old Emanuel were true to form and their pack was heavy, about 4 kilo per man heavier than Reeds. The Reeds’ pack brought mobility, agility and stamina which proved to be decisive as the game went on. Although Isaac (fractured finger) was missing Tom & Lucas filled in more than admirably on the wing. So Reeds had arguably their best squad on display.
The pitch was damp and clawing thus suiting the visitors. Reeds decided to play up the slope in the 1st half, the game plan being to hold Old Emanuel in the 1st half and strike in the 2nd half down the slope.
Old Emanuel started well, taking up residence in the Reeds’ half. Almost all Old Emanuel ball stayed in the pack. One of Reeds’ major assets this year has been the defence and it was on top form. For all their possession Old Emanuel only mounted one good attack, unusually using their back-line. The attack was stopped by an Ethan try saving tackle and the subsequent ruck was won by the pack to relieve pressure. The scrum, a small area of concern before the game was more than holding its own. As usual the line-out was functioning well. Matt was catching well at No 4 and the mauling was solid. After a minor hiccup Callum’s throw-in was well up to scratch.
Reeds’ 1st attack came from an Alfie break into their half. A penalty allowed Reeds to progress deep into their territory. A line-out win was followed by a forward drive but the ball was lost. Old Emanuel kicked to relieve pressure but Andre had dropped deeper to cover the kick. Although close to the touchline and with inside support Andre played the blind, ran and then grubber kicked and followed his kick to score a superb try in the corner.
Ethan & Matt shared the conversion duty, taking turn about. Of the 8 tries scored 6 were in the corner and 2 in front. Matt drew the short straw and all his kicks were from the touchline. The ground made touchline kicking very difficult and so it proved.
Reeds’ now took control with the pack winning good ball and the backs using it well. Olly T kept driving the pack forward and when necessary executing good box-kicks. Unfortunately 2 tries were ruled for marginal and doubtful forward passes. Olly T was receiving good protected ball and the pack was playing very tightly. Suddenly a sporadic break from Old Emanuel led to a try much against the play.
This came as a shock to the team who spent the rest of the half camped in the Old Emanuel 22. Just at the end of the half the pack manufactured a score close to the line after 3 good rucks. Conor, playing his best and most dynamic game this year scored a well deserved forward try. Lovers of tight forward were well satisfied. A small but satisfying 10-5 lead.
At half-time it could be said the pack was playing as a unit, everyone playing his part. The back-line looked fast and eager to run the ball. Unlike against Camberley, kicking for position was held to a minimum as the backs had the pace on Old Emanuel.
The start of the 2nd half was a shock. Old Emanuel sprinted out of the blocks while Reeds were suddenly static. Poor tackling from Reeds, so good in the 1st half, so poor at the start of the 2nd led to Old Emanuel’s 2nd try and a conversion. Suddenly the score was 10-12. The game changed, Reeds woke up and went on the score 34 unanswered points.
First Reeds drove into the Old Emanuel 22 and stayed there for some time. Old Emanuel defended very well and from a stolen ball cleared deep down field. Unfortunately for them Ethan returned the ball back into their 5 metre line, you saw the Old Emanuel forwards heads drop as they realised that had to do it all again. Old Emanuel had only 1 line-out jumper and a tiring pack. The Reeds’ line-out was secure and first Jamie and then James started to win the ball against the throw, at one stage 4 in a row. Old Emanuel couldn’t kick deep, nor kick to touch so when given penalties inside their 22 they tapped and run. The forward defence ate it up.
From one drive Robbie popped up to score, another well deserved forward try. From this point the pack took charge, their mobility, agility and stamina paying off. The scrum was secure, the line-out was working like a well oiled machine and the No 9 was getting an armchair ride.
From the subsequent kick-off the ball was moved through the back-line allowing Ethan to break the line and score under the post, a total distance of 75 metres. Old Emanuel were beaten.
Alfie scored the 1st of his brace with another long range try and everything looked good. Unfortunately an injury slowed progress. Olly M, playing a great game with simple passing and superb tackling against a much larger opponent slipped while making a break and suffered a head injury. The good news, it wasn’t serious but he left the field as a precaution. The back-line was re-set with Olly T moving to No 12 and Dan moving to No 9. Dan continued to have an armchair ride and spent the rest of the half providing quick well placed passes. Like the pack the back-line were fulfilling their roles to the maximum.
The most satisfying try was the sixth. From 30 metres out the scrum produce a quick feed, Dan passed beautifully to Andre, Olly T ran the dummy line and like Max & Tom held his opponent in place. Ethan joined the line at pace receiving a good lone pass from Andre, meanwhile Alfie had joined from the blind to take an inside pass from Ethan to stroll over for a very worked try. All of JT’s work on Friday night came to pass, needless to say he was delighted. Old Emanuel not only didn’t make a tackle but no Reeds’ player was even touched during the play. Every back performed his role correctly.
2 further tries were scored, both by the backs. Dan’s try came from a quick series of passes and Dan following the play and being the overlap player. Andre’s 2nd try came about because of the forward tackling made Old Emanuel just pass willy-nilly allowing Andre to step in for a decisive intercept and a stroll to the line.
As against Camberley the forwards stood up to pressure of a heavier pack, maximised their skills (line-out, mauling and tackling) and improved the scrummage to the point of coming out on top. The back-line meshed with pack using their pace and handling to be a constant threat. 3 tries scored from their own half. Except on one occasion the back-line tackling was more than expected. As Tim rang the changes both forward & back, no fall off in effort or skill was discernible, a truly very good squad performance.
The things Tim & JT worked on for the last couple of months and coming together and the step up from Camberley to Old Emanuel was marked. A pleasure for all the supporters to watch.
Anyway, time for a well deserved break for about 2 weeks. Remember, you can eat as much as you like on Xmas day as long as you run it off on Boxing Day. It is important to maintain your fitness over the holiday period and come back eager and fit to go, The semi-final is against our ‘old friends’ Effingham who spanked Camberley as did we.
Finally, have a great Xmas and have a happy new year, see you all In January