Academy win away at Paviors in integrated U16s game
By Steve Rudd
Melbourne’s cohesion dominates first half before Paviors/Ilkeston rally in the second
Due to waterlogged pitches at both Melbourne and original opposition Chesterfield, the Academy found themselves all dressed up with nowhere to go – until Paviors and Ilkeston kindly stepped in to invite the Green and Gold to play. The lads were met with a warm but extremely windy welcome at Paviors, and they provided the opposition to a newly combined Paviors/Ilkeston team (Ilkiors? Pavton?), taking their first steps in integrating their U16s into Colts rugby as Melbourne already have.
Following the previous week’s result where Melbourne just didn’t turn up, the Green and Gold committed in the changing room to showing what they could do and to injecting consistent controlled aggression and intensity to all areas of the game. The warm up that followed showed promise with all players ‘going for it’ rather than going through the motions but unfortunately the lads lost Matt Harris before kick off when he fell awkwardly, injuring his shoulder.
From the kick off, Melbourne displayed the resilience and commitment needed to respond to the previous performance, and through the industrious work of the forwards (which became a mark of the game), working round in pods, challenging at every breakdown and successfully securing the ball through the phases, the backs were able to capitalise on the field position, displaying excellent handling in the wind to release Sam Martin who backed himself on the wing; staying strong, powering forwards and beating three tackles/defenders to score in the left corner. Not a good day for kicking, the conversion attempt into the wind just couldn’t creep inside the nearest post.
Melbourne’s second try came once again from the work of the forwards, this time building on the work of the backs who had motored up the pitch before getting into trouble only to be rescued by the arriving thunder of the pack who hit the ruck, cleared through and allowed scrum half Max Booth to pick and dive over the line to score on the left wing. Again, the head wind killed the conversion attempt.
The pack were now fired up and dominating the scrum, getting a strong and controlled shove on each time and Adrian Biddle, playing at 8 for change, was particularly effective getting off the back in defence to shut the gap as the opposition tried crash ball back inside down the side of the scrummage. Lineout was, given the conditions, was pretty much a lottery for both sides, but Melbourne were still able to make a nuisance of themselves (Matt Suddaby showing a complete disregard for self-preservation in the air to disrupt and win turnover).
Austin Hind, who was having a cracking run at outside centre unfortunately became the first player to have to leave the field when his cutting running line attack was stopped in a tackle and he sustained a lower leg muscle pull/twisted ankle. A real shame as his attacking intent was sure to deliver a try.
Third try for the Green and Gold came from an out-to-in line run by wing Thomas Watson, who taking the ball at pace around the 22m line, skipped two tackles to score by the posts (much welcomed by fullback Jamie Rudd who was performing kicking duties and duly converted).
Not happy that the backs were again on the score sheet the forwards once again came knocking on the opposition’s door with phase play working right up and to their try line. However, quick as a flash, it was scrum half Max Booth who spotted the opportunity for an almost carbon-copy try, picking and diving for the line on the left wing. Despite trying to use the wind the conversion attempt went just wide of the far post.
Prop Alex Hubbard and second row Joe MacArthur were having arguably their best games of the season, playing with full on commitment and showing the work rate needed to set up the next wave of attack or to hit/clear the ruck and secure ball. Ben Woodhead also worked incredibly hard in attack, carrying well on numerous occasions, sucking in defenders and creating space for support runners, as well as in defence, as did Jordan Hind. Hooker Ben Brough was putting in a master class in the art of the tackle, putting in successful hit after hit and competing for the ball at every opportunity.
All the forwards were so committed and unfortunately Prop Harrison Oliver-Long had to leave the field with a knock to the head following colliding with a fully committed Ben Brough as they attempted a two-man tackle. This started to manifest itself in over-commitment at the breakdown and this indiscipline lead to a succession of penalties against Melbourne, allowing the opposition to relive the almost constant pressure through kicks to touch.
Despite this playing havoc with Melbourne’s ability to keep the pressure on, to round out the first half, fly half Will Kilgour who had been distributing the ball for the team, spotted a gap to make his own breakthrough in the opposition 22 to score by the posts for another converted try.
Half time: 0-29 to Melbourne.
The second half saw Paviors/Ilkeston return to play with a renewed vigour, using much improved line speed and connectivity to target the Melbourne first receiver and shut down the Green and Gold’s attacks. Whilst Melbourne seemed to be in the main addressing the over commitment at the breakdown and going off their feet, the Green and Gold were now picking up a variety of penalties. The better opposition organisation and self-imposed disruption to play saw Melbourne’s line breeched several times, necessitating some fine covering tackles and scramble defence. Ultimately the pressure told and the opposition broke away for a fine try run in from half way on the right wing – the wind playing its part again to kill the conversion attempt.
Melbourne’s response to this renewed opposition was to go forward in attack and defence with all the effort they could muster. What followed was some really exciting end to end rugby with neither side able to make it count. Eventually it was Melbourne who broke the deadlock, getting onto the front foot and stringing together a period of sustained pressure in the opposition half, cycling through forward and back attack before Matt Suddaby was able to power over on the right wing to score an unconverted try.
Melbourne finished with a flourish when forward-moved-to-the-wing Dylan Kocher was released by the backs to break away up the left wing and crash over in the corner to score. The conversion from the touch line was a fine kick applauded by the team as it sailed between the posts to round out the scoring.
Full time: 5-41 to Melbourne.
A huge thanks to Paviors and Ilkeston for inviting the lads over to ensure they got a game, and to all the lads of both teams for playing the game in such a positive spirit. For a first real outing of the combined Pavton/Ilkiors it was a pleasure to witness how they gelled together over the course of the game and will only continue to do so. Really nice to get all the players in for a group photo at the end too.
A really positive game rounded off with a beautiful pasta Bolognese in the clubhouse and a “challenge” for the three respective team’s men of the match as chosen by the referee – won by the Green and Gold’s own Adrian Biddle!
MOTM: Adrian Biddle (Referee’s choice)
Tries: Sam Martin, Max Booth x2, Thomas Watson, Will Kilgour, Matt Suddaby, Dylan Kocher
Convs: Jamie Rudd x3