U14s Ashbourne 24 - Melbourne Gold 26
By Alistair McVicar
All I want for Christmas ... is a Win
Round two of the NLD Bowl saw Melbourne Golds go to over to Ashbourne. The pitch was like frosty the snowman, but the sun was out and the game would be played.
Melbourne had already played Ashbourne this season and lost by one try on a very wet day. This time, with a very similar squad to last time, we knew it would be another close competition. Ashbourne welcomed us as always and the spirit of the day was set early, the Christmas spirit (not of the alcoholic type – I know how your minds work) was out, as well as the more important rugby spirit - respect from both camps was evident from the start.
The three wise men, Jim, Mike and Alistair, try’d to get the Golds up for the first half. Mike did a great warm up and the boys were ready. Some final words from Alistair and then Big Ben and Melbourne took to the pitch.
Ashbourne kicked off, then a knock on by Melbourne and the referee played advantage, within seconds Ashbourne go over to score in the corner, 5-0. Before we had chance to attack, Ashbourne had took a 10-0 lead, here we go again was the feeling, some frank words by the players after the second try and some fresh faces on the pitch of Jack, Seth and Phoenix and Melbourne had woken Melbourne up and put some pressure on Ashbourne.
A scrum 5m out and a set training ground move would see Huw pick and drive over in the corner, good team try and good finish by Huw - 10-5.
Melbourne carried on the attack and a penalty 5m out and Joe North does his usual quick thinking, tap and go, stopped by Ashbourne, and to the letter of the law, the official sin binned the Ashbourne player and awarded a penalty try, this try is still be contested between Joe North and Fraser McVicar, apparently it’s a well know rugby code that hookers are awarded the penalty tries! Back to the game – 10-12, and Melbourne took the lead in the first half for the first time this season! The dream was on…..
However, still dreaming of driving home for Christmas, Ashbourne scored two tries and went into halftime 24-12.
The Golds losing at half time was no surprise and go hand in hand like Michael Bublé and Christmas. The Melbourne coaches gathered the team in, had a simple team talk – it was a bit like Frosty the Snowman rather than the three wise men. We knew who the 3 or 4 boys who had hurt us in the first half were, and we knew we always win second halves, we just needed a little push and the fairy-tale of New York was on!
Oliver Askham spent the day putting Ashbourne on the back foot and was clearly ready to be Rockin around the Christmas Tree next week with his twinkle toes and energy he brought to the team.
Joe North and Brunt like to be know this time of year as Mistletoe and Wine, and continued to terrorise the Ashbourne defence in the second half, finding gaps and would put Ben Stevo over for a good try. 24-19. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
The pressure would continue and Joe North would score from close out and kick the conversation 24-26.
The next ten minutes was like watching a Wilder v Fury fight, neither team was backing down and this game could be won by either team.
Last Christmas, Melbourne Golds would have thrown this game away, but this year they knew they needed to see it out, with the last play of the game, Melbourne checked with the referee the score, 26-24 to Melbourne, scrum won, Northy kicked the ball out like a seasoned pro and Melbourne go through to the next round and have a holly jolly Christmas. There was no big celebrations, Melbourne knew they had been in a battle and had respect and sportsmanship for their counterparts at Ashbourne, handshakes, a tunnel and then some final words from the 3 wise men – did you know that Santa Claus is comin’ to town?
Special mentions to all of the boys, Cribby, Bradley and Tom on the wings had excellent games, the rest of the back of the Joes, Ethan and Ben had great games in attack and defence. All of the forwards did well, Big Ben and Ellis continued to make a big influence on the team, and the front row of Fraser, Mason, Paulo and Jack gave everything, the back row of Captain Rueben, Seth, Huw, Phoenix and Olly A who was excellent on his return.
Man of the Match went to Olly Smith at scrum half, a link between forwards and backs, played as an extra forward and an extra back and tackled everything, a clear MOM.
Ashbourne are always great hosts and a big thank you to Colin and the team for being such great hosts. A real rugby club run by rugby people and played in the right spirit.
Merry Christmas Everybody!