A good day after a bumpy start...
By Neil Fisher
A last minute change of venue allowed the Celts to sign off their Mini Rugby era in style!
So we didn't get to play at the County Showground but with some quick thinking we relocated to the Wootton Rugby ground and played a pool of three opponents. A bit of a rush job but at least we got to play rugby, many others didn't...
First up were old foes Trojans who always give us a good match and after Michael Cromie scored with a powerful run it was clear this would be another tight one. The Celts defence was good but Trojans were stronger in the rucks. As our defence was drawn in, their tall attacker found a gap and got an equaliser. We lost Jake Hoare to a dislocated finger. On the back foot the Celts were found lacking again and Trojans found the winner. We couldn't help but feel that the boys had left quite a few chances to score on the pitch. L1-2
Match #2 was against a new side to us - Old Elthamians RFC. After some rucking and handling practise the boys were sent out with a clear instruction, use the width of the pitch and you will succeed. Kai Williams collected the kick off and galloped 40m to the try line where the opposing full back collared him but not before he executed a perfect offload to Thomas Hutchinson. Unfortunately, at speed, the grounding was not good and we went back for the scrum. A great start though - good attacking intent.
30 seconds later Jack Harrison charged down the pitch from his own half and unfortunately the ball was not grounded cleanly - was this going to be the story of this match...Thankfully not, within a minute, Thomas Hutchinson got an opportunity to make up and scored the opening try in the corner. Great support from Bryn Allison in the build up. Similarly, Kai Williams then took his opportunity to power over for his first of the day. Peter Headley then charged down the field and scored his first. The rucking was great but we still weren't getting the ball wide enough. Finally, after great hustling from Henry Shaw, from one side of the pitch, the ball went through the hands and Harry Cromie crossed over in the corner. Better. Much better.
The second half, despite being up hill was easier, the boys were able to get the ball away from contact quickly and with numbers out wide, really wide. Great distribution from Aidan Bones. Charlie Fisher went over three times after great work from the team to get him the ball on the wing. We also had great support from George Popplewell and Jayden Ryan who were in waiting but not required, this time...
Oliver Smith and Elliott Giles were putting in some massive hits in the middle and our defence was strong with the Celts seeing the game out with a clean sheet. We knew there was tougher opposition to come. W7-0
Last match v Wanstead was the best match I've seen in some time and was well commended by neutrals as "the game of the day". Wanstead had dispatched Trojans and were looking to finish the day with three from three. The Celts started slowly and a couple of missed tackles meant we were chasing the game from early on as their centre went over unopposed. Using the advantage of the hill, the Celts made good ground and threatened but could not find a way through. Wanstead were a strong side and counter attacked well. The Celts struggled to hold on in the first half and Wanstead scored another. A positive team talk at half time seemed to help as the display of the day came about. The two teams went toe to toe for over 6 minutes with the Celts knocking on the Wanstead door for the majority of the game. A great high kick catch by Charlie Noble, powerful rucking by Charlie gregory and Morgan Clayton. Gus Corbett collected a long clearing kick as Wanstead tried to clear their lines. He showed great composure under incredible pressure and held the ball up for his team mates despite three opponents trying to take the ball. William May and Thomas Hutchinson took the quick restart and made 50m to the Wanstead corner where a great last ditch tackle prevented a deserved score. Despite having 2 last minute penalties 7m out, the Celts could not find a way through and the game ended to cheers from both sets of fans. A great ending to the Celts time playing Mini Rugby and a performance the whole squad should be proud of.
We now look ahead to Youth Rugby and Cup competitions in 2019-20! The law changes to U13's rugby will be discussed next week with a bit of fun to end the season. I look forward to seeing you there! Well done to all the boys and parents who pesevered in difficult circumstances today. I know we didn't get as much game time as we'd have liked but it was still a very worthwhile trip over. Thanks for making the effort.