Eton Manor 10 Norwich 54
As I sit at my computer watching Julian’s brilliant video of our boys playing rugby against Eton Manor, I’m reminded along with a few other parents that we may rue the fact that the boys had partied hard on tour and playing a game of rugby on Sunday may have been the last thing they needed or indeed wanted. We couldn’t have been more wrong, instead we were to be witnesses to a fantastic game of rugby, which in my humble opinion produced some of the best moments of the season.
We were also lucky to be playing on Eton Manor’s new artificial grass pitch (AGP), and if I’m not mistaken this is the boy’s first time playing a full game on an AGP. However the good news is that this year the boys wouldn’t be going home covered in mud unlike last year when we played on Eaton Manors grass pitches.
As always the boys went through their normal warm up stretches and drills with the coaches and additionally some specific drills for playing on AGP’s.
The weather was changeable with plenty of cloud, a little rain now and again interspersed with a bit of sunshine. And so our boys took to the field of play for the start of the game; having won the toss Eton Manor elected to kick off. With the shrill of the referees whistle the game commenced with a big kick into our 22, which was well caught by Conor who was able to take the ball into contact just over our 22-metre line. The ball being retained by Norwich in contact was quickly moved out to the right wing where Oliver was able to power down the line only being put into touch just past the halfway line.
From the lineout Norwich pressed Eton Manor hard and managed to drive them back towards their 22-metre line. The rain had made the ball a little damp, which impacted on both sides making several ball handling errors, particularly knock-on’s. However every cloud has a silver lining and Norwich were able to show their dominance in the scrum, winning all their scrums and on a number of occasions turning over Eton Manors.
Norwich were able to maintain the pressure on Eton Manor winning a scrum in their 22-metre zone, controlling the ball from the scrum Norwich passed the ball quickly with it ending up in the hands of Conor who with something seen only in Riverdance was able to jig by the Eton Manor defence to score Norwich’s first try of the morning. The conversion was taken by Tom, who was able to cleanly strike the ball through the uprights for the extra points.
From the restart Eton manor pressed hard, Norwich defended well however Eton Manor were able to take the advantage and were able to get the ball to one of their players who allegedly is the seconded fastest U15 in the UK, and to see him run you could believe it. Leaving Norwich’s finest in his wake he was able to breach the Norwich goal line to score Eton Manor’s first try of the morning. Mention should be made to Sam who very nearly managed to secure a fine tap tackle but missed by a whisker. Unfortunately Eton Manor were unable to secure the conversion.
From the restart Norwich showed their resilience and a hunger to take the game to Eton Manor. Strong tackles and competitive rucking meant that our boys controlled the tempo of the game and were able to keep Eton Manor hemmed into their own half.
Some nice off loading to the left wing saw Josh make a valiant surge for the Eaton Manor goal line but being brought down just short, Norwich were able to quickly recycle the ball to Conor who was able to score his second try of the day. Again Tom made the conversion for the extra points.
A short kick from the restart meant that Newton could ask for the scrum option and Norwich once again were in their dominant position. A strong scrum meant that Norwich were able to take the ball into Eton Manor’s half, and a strong run through several players by Alvin looked to be a certain try, unfortunately for him the ‘second fastest U15 in the UK’ had other ideas and brought him down short of the try line. Great jackling by the supporting players allowed Joe to control the ball and seeing a gap dived for the try line scoring Norwich’s third try of the morning. Tom being able to put the ball between the uprights gained Norwich the extra points.
Although Eton Manor were moving the ball well, Norwich stifled any hope that they had of taking the game to Norwich. Our boys were energetic, keen and played with a high intensity that inevitably meant that for large parts of the first half Norwich dominated the play.
Some good game management by Tom and Newton around cross-field kicks and actions at the lineout meant that Norwich were able to play the open space and construct good mauls. Just before halftime it all came together with Tom kicking a cross-field ball into the arms of Oliver who was only just taken to the ground, but which led to Eaton Manor taking the ball to ground. With Eton Manor looking to secure the ball Newton took a strong stance in the ruck and was able to push Eaton Manor off the ball giving Norwich a penalty for holding the ball.
Tom took the penalty and kicked the ball towards the 5-metre mark, which enabled Norwich to secure a lineout just short of the 5-metre line. The subsequent throw in and maul could not have gone better. The ball was caught and moved to the back of the maul in a near text book fashion and the pack then moved towards the goal line as one. It was undoubtedly one of the best-executed mauls the boys have done this season and was fantastic to see. The resulting try was scored by Alfie who secured the ball at the rear of the pack and grounded it over the line. Tom once again put the ball between the uprights for the extra points.
With the halftime whistle Norwich lead Eaton Manor 28 – 5.
With the restart by Norwich we hoped that the boys would continue to play in the same manner in which they had embraced the first half. The boys did not disappoint and for most of the second half the game was contested in the Eaton Manor half.
An unfortunate tackle by Alex led to him being shown the yellow card by the referee and sent to the sideline for the next 5 minutes; it was encouraging to see that even during this passage of play our boys were able to maintain their composure and keep Eton Manor at bay.
Norwich remained dominant and further tries from Alvin, Joe, Bradley, Josh (the other one) and with Tom converting three Eaton Manor’s fate was sealed.
However Eaton Manor continued to play competitive rugby and near the end of the second half launched an assault down their right wing with their player breaking through at least four Norwich players to score their final try of the day, unfortunately they were unable to convert it.
This final effort by Eaton Manor signified the end of the game; with the referee’s whistle the final score was Eaton Manor 10 – 54 Norwich.
There was much to like about the boys performance today, their teamwork was exceptional, the movement of the ball was quick and decisive, and their work around the breakdown was again exceptional with great rucking by everybody.
We’ve still lots to work on; our ball handling was a little wanting today with several errors that on another day could have cost us dearly and if I heard right depth in attack could be worked on.
All that said I think we would all agree that we watched a fantastic performance by all the boys and they should be pleased with their efforts.
A big thank you as well to Julian who took the video which has already been a great learning tool for the boys and a great bit of sporting entertainment for the parents
Well done boys you did yourselves, your coaches and your parents proud.