Academy lose to West Bridgford
By Steve Rudd
Strong team performance from Melbourne delivers a great contest, not reflected in the score
Due to unavailability and illness the Academy’s predominantly U16/U17 team made their way to Nottingham Trent University to play West Bridgford.
Despite a size differential, Melbourne started with real intensity, putting in a sustained period of pressure on the opposition and forcing two penalties in quick succession that got them into their 22 before leaving with 3 points on the board.
The lads were organising themselves well in attack and the defence was solid with good line speed and ferocity of contact meeting the hard charges from the opposition.
Some fine tackles were put in across the team adding to the big hits from Dan Makepeace and Max Lucas disrupting opposition attacks and Rufus Comasky made several excellent covering tackles when the line was broken.
Melbourne had the upper hand in the scrum from the off which was a surprise to everyone given the size of the West Bridgford pack and the lineout was functioning well in the main.
Unfortunately a simple error and a missed tackle allowed a converted try in and at half time the score was 3-7 to West Bridgford.
After the restart, a significant refresh of the opposition line up started to stretch Melbourne but the lads kept on playing with the same level of commitment.
Tired legs were however affecting the connectivity of the Melbourne defensive press and eventually West Bridgford broke the line as the defence went flat-footed and upright to score a second converted try.
Melbourne answered with another period of attacking pressure and hard defence forcing the opposition back deep into their half but they just couldn’t convert this into a score.
West Bridgford eventually broke out due to a missed tackle and despite some fine covering tackles and scramble defence the went in for a third but this time unconverted try in the corner.
Fatigue was now a significant factor for Melbourne with the lack of replacement options really starting to tell - particularly for the front five forwards - and the defence was getting pulled around. Jason Cenaj, Ben Brough and Ben Woodhead were industrious around the breakdown and in making tackles but the fresh legs were telling.
Unfortunately Melbourne got stretched once again during a hard defensive period and the opposition out flanked again for their last (unconverted) try of the game.
Melbourne put in further attacking pressure from the restart and then when they lost possession soaked up further waves of attack before Thomas Watson stoped a try almost on the line with a tackle into touch/the corner flag. A few more minutes play and the final whistle blew. Final score 3-24 to West Bridgford.
The score really didn’t reflect how hard the young Melbourne team worked against an U18 side and whilst there are work ons for training, there is much to be impressed by in what was a fantastic game to watch.
Pen: Jamie Rudd
MOTM: Dan Makepeace