Celts shine despite the conditions
By Neil Fisher
Counties drawn to an early close with the Celts flying high
Many may have called off, in fact some teams decided against playing today. However, the smiling faces throughout proved it was worth it in the end. The weather was the worst we've seen and the pitches deteriorated quickly making it more difficult when the ball went to ground.
Game 1 v Overton was a tough physical encounter and we were struggling at the ruck. Overton were strong and drew our boys in which didn't leave much space out wide to defend. However, our tackling was the best we've seen in a while and it was only a matter of time before an opportunity arose: the ball broke wide to Harrison Bennett with a bit of space in front of him and he flew over for the first try of the day. At half time the coaches asked for more control at the ruck and better body position. The Celts defence was solid, Charlie gregory and Oliver Smith were putting in some crunching tackles in the middle with great cover tackles from Elliott Giles and Charlie Fisher. Aidan Bones was in full control at the breakdown and again, once the ball went wide, William May powered over in the corner. A great show of sportsmanship from Will when he went over to console the opposition full back who hurt himself in the tackle. Back on the attack, William May showed great strength with consecutive handoffs before off loading. The confidence was rising. When Overton kicked to clear, the ever present Joshua Fernandes was there to catch the high ball and counter attack. I've no idea how he caught those high balls in that weather. His concentration and attacking were rewarded with a try in the second half and despite a spirited comeback from Overton, the Celts eased through 3-0W.
A ten minute turnaround before Game 2 v Alton, the seeded team in our group. Positivity from the boys was flowing and after an initial wobble (poor rucking and tackling technique and lack of possession) in the first half, Kai Williams opened the scoring with a positive, direct run. Again, at half time the coaches asked for better control at the ruck and for tackles to be completed properly. Again, the Celts improved, Gus Corbett was a constance menace to the Alton attacking line and the rest of the team were right there to support him. Jake Hoare and Aidan Bones led by example in the ruck and Alton were on the back foot. Henry Shaw and Oliver Smith were putting in some big hits. The Celts then produced "the best team try we've ever scored" as the ball was won at the ruck on the right hand side of the pitch, the line looked good, the hands were good and with three excellent run and pass moves, the ball was passed to Harrison Bennett for the responsibility of finishing from 25m. There was still a lot to do but he finished well. Superb!! The Celts' doggedness in defence frustrated the Alton players who couldn't find a way through despite their big boys trucking it up. 2-0W. Wow.
Asked to play straight on v Andover in Game 3, the boys were flying high, it wasn't long before Michael Cromie picked a lovely line and went over for his first try. Owen Williams was a constant threat in the scrum and brought a couple of turnovers which lead to the towering Peter Headley going over in the corner. Harry Cromie was leading well at the breakdown and providing quick, clever ball via Thomas Hutchinson. We were moving the ball from side to side with ease and confidence and it wasn't long before William May powered over with a one handed stretch for the line. The ref was happy and the Celts exstatic!! There was time for one more when Oliver Smith made a break with his trademark step and got his name on the score sheet. The Celts defence was resolute 4-0W
Asked again to play straight on v Petersfield was maybe a step too far as the gas was low and the boys were caked in mud from head to toe. Petersfield came in for their second match and looked the more hungry in what turned out to be a very chaotic game. The mudbath played a huge part in a disappointing game which the Celts deservedly lost to a better team. Well played Petersfield. 0-2L
Unfortunately, Heathens had had enough and the pool matches were over for us. Due to the weather, it was deemed the boys had played enough and were allowed to wash down and get warm.
All the coaches are very proud of the effort put in today, there was so much good in what we saw and whilst the day didn't end on a high, we're very pleased with the outcome. We're seeing real strength in the team and there are some exciting times ahead! Well played everyone!
Thanks to the parents for supporting the boys, it really means a lot to them, particularly in such awful conditions.