Hoppers U16 46 Bury U16s 14
Anyone out there a fan of the good old English breakfast? I am. It is quite a varied term “English Breakfast”. To some it is the gentle crinkle of a crisp bowl of Kellogg’s with ice cold milk. To some of the more afflicted amongst us it is the wooden savoury dish of Alpen, with its raisin co habitant; served in a dish of fresh Yogurt is the preferred choice. However, to most the staple Bacon, eggs, sausage and beans; perhaps complimented with some toast or a sliced mushroom; is the stereotypical norm.
This raises a question however. What about the savoury blood based pig dish that has its roots in our marvellous North West. Does the sinisterly named Black Pudding (Obviously not in a cheesecake sense) require an addition to the perceived holy trinity of traditional English breakfast etiquette. As we know the town of Bury is famous for its meticulously formed pig portioned rolls. Our visitors today would surely argue that “Black Pudding” is as important to English Breakfast as mouth guards are to rugby. You see its about individual’s perceptions and choice. Whilst we may look at what would have a traditionally familiar feel, others may perceive that to be different as they would “Choose”, based on experience and preference a different picture.
Today’s game was very much a game of various conflicting perceptions; and performances. Our visitors are pooled in the same group as ourselves for the Lancashire Cup, and from information provided by our resident scouts (Well Andrew and Justin) they were seen to have a good stable pedigree of young talent. As coaches the warm up appeared to be a somewhat lacklustre affair. Whether the persistent fatigue that early season games can provide was the precursory factor, or an apathetic view of our opponents; there was an almost complaisant manner to the boys manner in this essential part of the match day routine. However as a seasoned observer of this team through the years, this wasn’t often a true reflection of what would happen in the game itself.
A good string side was put on the field for the first half. For some this was their opportunity to show some of the significant improvements that have been seen in training, on the field of competitive play. As with all of our games currently we have a wealth of talent to choose from at our club (Using the Breakfast metaphor a “buffet” of talent); with many players either on the fringe or pushing hard to attain cup squad status. It seemed a positive start too with some good tight forwards play and excellent work on the half back fringes. Early exchanges would have indicated that the starting 15 would have many a good opportunity to utilise the pace of the wingers, following short repeated phases in the forwards. Perhaps, most frustrating through this period seemed to be a lack of “volume” on the pitch. I always tend to use my own voice as being the comparative ingredient to the communication level on the pitch. As of right now I have a mildly hoarse, bordering on “Mariella Fostrupp” which would suggest that the boys were less than adept at communicating on the pitch. Despite this it was fantastic to see some of the rehearsed back movements leading to excellent positional gains in the centre of the field. Similarly some spritely movement from the defenders receiving the high ball in our own 22; was returned “With credit”. The forwards looked very assured in the scrums and in broken play, with our no 9 having plenty of clean recycled ball to use.
The visitors were able to score two converted tries in this period, mainly due to a defensive frailty that was unfortunately of our own making. As a teaching point it was fairly easy to spot; and I would hope that we will be able to work on putting that point across in the next few sessions. Both tries came about when we seemed to narrow our defensive lines. This put more pressure on the final defenders as they would either have the runner already attacking the area outside of them, or would have a 2:1; 3:1 situation. To Burys’ credit they were able to exploit this to their advantage on each of these occasions. Perhaps most frustrating for the boys on the pitch was, it was clear they knew what was happening (Showing a good understanding of the game in front of them), but struggled to communicate this to each other in order to plug those gaps. Despite this a number of players were able to set their stall with some marvellous defensive tackling and tenacious rucking.
This was definitely a marked change not just in personnel but performance. My loose understanding of the scoring gave 48 unanswered points. I was of the impression our visitors had expected to commence this half as the last 15 minutes of the previous half had ended. This was not to be the case. Players that they had certainly made a case for marking as a “person of interest” – Lincoln I’m talking to you – in the first half; seemed to have more space to exploit this leading to 2 very quickly scored and converted tries. It was clear to see that the use of the width of the 1st team pitch was beginning to provide some fruits for our labour. In fact Declan’s use of some magic feet to poke the ball into space allowed for a rather splendid solo effort on the left flank. ***ALERT COACHING POINT*** From the touchlines, it did seem to be somewhat quiet when listening for the application of what call was to be utilised next. Perhaps my hearing may have been impeded by the persistent shouting of the first 35, but rarely did the usual cacophony of calls that would normally confirm by global positioning in the North West (“Wigan…. Wigan …. WIIIIIGAAAAN”) challenge my earlobes in the half. This aside there must have been some communication to allow for some superb runs from the back row Alex being producer, best supporting actor and best actor in a “try scoring role”.
What we seemed to have in this period of play as opposed to in the first half, was unbridled support. The free runner seemed to have one or two potions going into each phase of contact. The off load in the tackle was exceptional at times – Take a bow Baillie (Hope I spelt that right; so tempted to write Bailey’s!). But as our final try showed; the using the space and looking for the support player to accept the kind gift of a run in on the corner would always enable us to show our class and depth of play.
My final score was 46-14; Mike feel free to adjust this according to accuracy and common sense.
Despite the scoring being fostered in the second period the game, it was nurtured with a strong but unsuccessful first half. We have some work to do in order to make this a more complete performance; not to detract away from making what was a sometimes exceptional display today. Some players have without doubt laid claim to challenging for a cup squad place. Some players will know what they have to do to challenge for these places. Others may feel confident that their place is secured and fixed with little to challenge the status quo. Let us remember that as in the best of mid-price hotels; the breakfast selection is often vast and appealing on many levels; and as we all know tastes change and develop. One day a sautéed mushroom, another a tinned plum tomato with a hint of salt and pepper. What we know for sure is that as a rugby team, we have many choices and many opportunities to develop our game. As our palate changes so does what we put on our plate.
Black Pudding anyone?