Two close fought games against Berkshire saw our U16s perform very well.
U16 Middlesex Swords 29 – Berkshire 27
It was the first fixture of the season and the boys were all ready and eager to play and prove that their selection was deserved and also to get a more resounding win against Berkshire this time around compared to last year’s last play winner. It was set to be a great matchup. Middlesex won the toss and elected to kick off with Berkshire choosing to switch ends and get the wind behind them in the first half. The whistle went and it was kicked deep into Berkshire territory. The game was on.
A few early Middlesex errors which were ruthlessly punished by Berkshire put Berkshire up 12 – 0 early on but the boys didn’t let their chins drop and kept a level head to get back to the Middlesex way of playing, with some big runs from the dominant forward pack and some lightning fast runs from the backs. Yet we were unable to score. Late in the first half, with five minutes to go before half time, we got a lineout on the Berkshire 22 metre line. With some deliberation we elected for a driving maul which we executed well and Buster Wilkins finished the move off with a dart down the blindside and he went into score in the corner. Middlesex 5 Berkshire 12. The boys were completely switched on now and were hungry for more. From the kick-off Charlie Davis collected the ball, avoided the tackle and made the break to then put a kick in behind and chase it, forcing the Berkshire defence to take it over their own try line. This was a great attacking opportunity, could Middlesex score? From the scrum Oliver Sterling picked the ball and drove for the try line but came up just short. However the forward pack didn’t panic and with two more pick and go’s the captain James Whitehouse found the try line and the score was level. We knew we were in control and we were all focussed on keeping it that way.
The second half consisted of a series of back and forth tries, with Oliver sterling scoring from the lineout that Middlesex were continuing to dominate, Jibran Okorefe powering his was through several defenders to score and Fintan Shaw finishing off a well worked backs move in the corner. However despite this Berkshire continued to respond with some rapid runs from deep and some very nice offloads. It came down to the final play of the game with Berkshire attacking. A perfectly executed kick to their winger set him up for a race down the wing before offloading to his support and enabling a try right in the corner. It all came down to this final conversion which had to be scored if Berkshire wanted to avoid defeat. The entire Middlesex team lined upon the try line ready to chase the kick down, would they win? The kicker took a step and the boys charged but the kick got away. The boys looked back to see the ball drifting wide of the posts and cheers went up on the pitch. We had done it, we had won by 2 points in a very tight game.
The boys played heads up rugby but also played with their hearts, playing for each other and the Middlesex name. We were glad to get the victory but there are some work-ons before our next game which can be sorted out in training. Overall a great start to the season and a season to look forward to.
U16 Middlesex Shields 26 – Berkshire 28
A dominant first half performance saw us dot down three times. Thanks to quick service of the bottom of the ruck and direct physical carries from the forwards it gave us a good front foot platform to play from. This partnered with weaving running lines from the backs and good communication throughout the team pinned Berkshire back into their half for the majority of the half. With clear objectives set before the game of executing the basics well in attack and focusing on realignment in defence both were brought into the game. This first half performance has set the standard for how we should play.
However after repeatedly absorbing the Berkshire attack in the first half organisation and momentum began to drop in the second which resulted in conceding and having the pressure put onto us for the rest of the game. Although we did score in the second half again due to our physicality, as bodies got tired they exploited us through fast opportunist running which eventually put them ahead on the score sheet. It was clear that in the second half our intensity had dropped.
Although the match ended as a defeat there was a lot of positives to take away from the game and good foundations set in place for the remaining fixtures. We have some work to do but know we can improve as a team. Moving forward we wish to carry through our attacking and defensive intent and execute our principles of play in order to turn around for the next game against Hampshire.