Academy lose away at Matlock
By Steve Rudd
Tough game but a fantastic contribution from the U16s as they join the team
Tough game today for the first real outing of what in the main will be next season’s Academy.
40-19 to Matlock wasn’t the fairy tale score line the lads wanted to make a clean sweep for the Senior sides this weekend, but is a credit to them all given the physical mismatch between the two sides.
Matlock were aggressive from the off with hard direct running and were both quick to react and hungry for the ball at the breakdown. Melbourne were a little shell shocked at first as they got to grips with new positions, players and the challenge of the game but the lads started to work it out and got on the scoreboard just before the break with U16 James Cox driving forward to score his first Academy try, making it 20-5 at halftime.
Lifted by this score the lads really gelled and started to play the structured attacking rugby we work on in training which lead to another two tries for Melbourne from established Academy player Will Flint and from another U16, Ben Woodhead (also scoring his first for the Academy) in exchange to two for the Matlock. Max Booth stepped into fly half with ease as Jack Price moved to fullback and the pressure the lads exerted on Matlock during this period lead to a loss of discipline for the hosts - following a string of team warnings and penalties a yellow was issued by the referee resulting in a trip to the bin for a team sanction.
The Melbourne coaches were trying out different combinations of players to see what could work for the rest of the season. An injury saw Arthur Bowler leave the field on his return from time out which was a sad end to seeing him back to his usual hard charging self earlier in the game and then MoTM Jack Price had to retire due to a severe cramp that just would not ease. Jack lead throughout from the front, moving through positions to accommodate the younger lads and putting in some great defensive and attacking work.
Matlock came at the lads again and scored two tries in quick succession but under Ben Woodhead's rallying cry for no more opposition scores, they checked the renewed onslaught and then went on the front foot to close out the second half at 20-14 (when the referee stopped play following an injury - luckily not serious - to Tom Gaunt who had been strong on the wing throughout the match. Final score: 40-19.
The U16s playing impressed with their commitment under difficult circumstances and gave it their all - definite looking good for the future. The older Academy players were also a credit to Melbourne's "one club" philosophy; showing maturity and being supportive and welcoming for the younger lads - well done!
As a team, the lads learned so much from the game which they and the coaches can now take forward into training.
Tries: James Cox, Will Flint, Ben Woodhead
Convs: Will Flint (x2)
MOTM: Jack Price