LRGS 1st XV v QEGS Wakefield: report

Lancaster Royal Grammar School 1st XV vs QEGS Wakefield

Score: 8-8

 
A game away from home is always hard. On an unfamiliar pitch, with unfamiliar people on the sidelines and an unfamiliar referee. An away game against QEGS Wakefield, on a wide pitch, with rugged Yorkshire fans and a big set of lads to compete with offered a unique challenge.
 
The Wakefield team are a big team, the antithesis of us, more mobile and fitter than their large and punchy team. A clash of styles was to play itself out during the course of the game, but not without some crossover. The game started in the wet, lending a hand to their style of play. We received the ball and set it up in the forwards, testing them for a small while before the first knock-on of the game. The scrum was solid at the start, and continued to be throughout the game; however they retained their ball and mercilessly attacked us for some minutes, although the ball did change hands and we pinned them back to their half with good kicking from Owen and the other backs. However they kept coming and after 10 minutes we had conceded a penalty in front of the posts – 3 down.
 
A call for focus and to get the ball led us to pressure the kickoff and regain the “pill”.  We thus exerted some of our own pressure for the first time in the game. However we forced some offloads and tried to hard to play, causing them to regain the possession meaning we were never in control and couldn't exert our game plan. Drama played out however, when we were defending against them on their line; the kicker was chased down and the ball went loose and Stott followed, dived onto it and we promptly celebrated the try. Lost forward. No try. Scrum. No try!
 
The game continued with them having most of the ball until about three quarters of the way through the first half when we had the ball in front of the posts and their player was jackling. The referee called for him to stop, he continued, whether through his own will or not, he stayed there. We were afforded a penalty. A nerve-racking connection led a swerve into the middle of the posts and we were level. All square. The ball yo-yo’d possession until another knock-on sounded the end of the first half.
 
We had defended well the first half, and they had nothing to show for their attacking efforts, but we hadn't put our mark on the game. We’d held on, not led the show. We hadn't shown our attacking style or play. We needed to go out firing and start to turn the screw.
 
The second half started well, smashing them back off kickoff and turning it over. Play changed hands again, many times as each side couldn’t find continuity at the breakdown or lost the ball in the wet. However after yo-yoing for some time we were awarded a halfway penalty and kicked to touch. The call was good, and the line out which had been hit and miss against some much taller forwards, went well. The forwards drove the ball from between the 10 and 22 to about 10 metres out. The maul slowed and we re-set the ball. The ball quickly made its way to the backs, where quick hands from Stott, Whitelock and Finan led to Owen finishing with some footwork: 8-3, we’re up.
 
We then defended, pinned them back and defended. Trucked it forward, hard yards won. We were caught by a turnover ball by their 7 on the right side. We were flung from attack mode onto the back foot, disorganised in defence. In one desperate movement the ball was passed along the line, each player trying to fix his man and ship it. By the time the last man had the ball he was being brought down by a big effort from Brookes sweeping; however the distance was just too far and the ball went down. A scuffed kick: 8-8.
 
We were deadlocked. We defended extremely well, the front five soaking in the hits and the backs on top of their “meatier” opponents. We were locked in a dogfight for possession, which neither side seemed to get out of, never mind let up on. Big hits went in on both sides. A cycle of attack-defend repeated itself, as we fought on. Our scrum. A call for last play, and we waited in trepidation. The front row put in another solid effort, steady at the base and the back row cleaned the ruck in the backs, securing the ball throughout the game. We kept playing, moving forward, reaching the half way. A ruck was slightly isolated, and one of their players, eager to get his hands on the ball went over it, only to be stopped by a second row. The player fell and the referee called that he was off his feet. Our penalty.
 
Some called for the game to end, but we made the call to continue. We would play to win. We attacked, making ground, then the ball was ripped and they had it. They played. Infringed and penalty us. We went forward again, making 20m, holding on hope there still was a chance of winning. Hitting it forward and running led to desperate rucking on both sides, and in that confusion there was a knock on. An event bruised bodies were calling for, but yet the competitive mind didn't want to register. The whistle went. Game over. A draw.
 
Instantaneously the sides went from warring parties to respectful peers, congratulations all round for a fantastic game, but disappointment from us for drawing. A good first game, solid scrummage and good driving line out when we got the line out right, solid defence from the backs especially and good place kicking all were positives. Lots to work on for the future, but encouraging nonetheless. Especially encouraging to see all of the debut players play so well: Prakash, Helme, Hunt, Finan and Jowett.
 
Players:
1.    Prakash Thanikachalam 2. Harry Robb 3. Dave Bennett 4. Josh Hunt 5. Oly Helme 6. Zach Barrow 7. Joe Towers 8. Oly Cuerden 9. Cal Robinson-Brookes 10. Cal Owen 11. Matt Bargh 12. Sam Stott 13. Harry Finan 14. Jamie Todd 15. Dougie Whitelock
 
16. Harry Jowett 17. Ben Taylor
 
Report by Zach Barrow 1st XV Captain

 

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