Academy edge win over Long Eaton
Superb defensive performance see Melbourne secure hard fought win
A dark, overcast, but dry day saw the Academy travel the short distance to Long Eaton. Billed as an U17 Colts game, the match was arranged to get Long Eaton's Colts up and running for the first time this season as an U16/U17 side and in the interests of developing this for their players, Melbourne Academy were happy to help.
All players contributed including the four U16s playing their first Colts rugby and its was great to see established Academy player Max Lucas back to form after a lengthy injury lay off, putting in the first big hit of the game and opening the scoring for Melbourne with a fine line break try. Second try of the first half came from Rufus Comasky scoring on his Academy debut and the first try of the second half was scored by Austin Hind (also scoring on his debut), finishing off a superb backs move off the breakdown work of the forwards, with wing Chester Smith tight in support.
The forwards worked extremely hard throughout the game as a pack, and their hunger and consistent endeavour meant the backs had ball, time and space to attack, controlled effectively and fed by the half backs. Although out-gunned at the scrummage against a bigger pack, they never once gave in, coming back for more time after time particularly in the second half when both teams went through a significant period of knock-ons...
The in-week training for Melbourne had clearly paid off as we worked to address the weaknesses from the previous game at Matlock. Speed at the breakdown and rucking was much improved, but the biggest breakthrough was the organisation, speed and commitment in defence - and some of the tackles that went in were top class! Matt Mosedale, Zac Parkinson, Ben Brough, Max Lucas, Ben Woodhead, Dylan Spurling to name a few, all putting in big hits alongside their team mates in defence.
As only the second outing as the newly reorganised U16/U17 Academy for the second half of the season, the lads played as a team with real structure and energy. They also delivered a period of what can only be described as close-quarters combat in defence on our try line/inside our 22 in the second half that was a real highlight of the game despite the eventual score (a fine effort) by Long Eaton. With some fatigue setting in, Long Eaton managed a second score before Melbourne pushed hard for a fourth to put the game to bed, getting deep into the opposition half and looking dangerous before the ball went into touch for full time. 12-19 to Melbourne at the final whistle.
The Academy lads were full of praise for each other in the huddle at the end and clearly enjoyed the game and a win that they had worked as a team for. Long Eaton were similarly buzzing afterwards too despite the result not going in their favour and both sides left the field looking forward to the rematch later in the season.
Both teams produced a great game for all spectators and the result doesn't tell the full story of a true contest in midfield - best illustrated by a Long Eaton supporter who asked; “Excuse me, is this the seconds playing?”.
Solid job lads...
Tries: Max Lucas, Rufus Comasky, Austin Hind
Convs: Rufus Comasky
MOTM: Zac Parkinson (amazing work rate from the scrum half in attack and defence throughout the game)