U13s battle to draw at Leigh

Date: 10 November 2014

Leigh U13s 24    Preston Grasshoppers U13s 24
Sunday 9th November 2014

(Scene – A lush green field on the edge of an overly widened stretch of water. A mass throng of rugby ready lads, smiling parents eating allegedly the best sausages in the North West; stand silently to the side of the worlds widest rugby field)

A brisk warm up followed by a short game of “League” rules gave the boys a welcome practice session following the excesses of the half term holiday. The coaches appeared to have spoken in a long lost dialect when asking the boys to do push ups following short (ish) sprints. Fortunately this wasn’t to be repeated when the boys practiced as the forwards and back units.

Our opponents were already in need of assistance to reach a full complement for the 15 a side game to which we were happy to gift a player for this 4 x 15 minute quarters (Shame he played so damn well for them!). Predictions in the home supporters camp (Post excellent sausage time) were for a bruising encounter, and a highly physical game. They didn’t disappoint.

ACT ONE – PART TWO “Perpetual Motion”
(Scene – A pitch of Prestonians clad in white facing a team of angry bumblebees wearing multi coloured hats standing side by side for a minutes silence in remembrance of the fallen men and women who fought for us to have the right to play the game we love in a state of freedom and opportunity)

Both teams respectful silence was a wonderful precursor for the action to follow. Contrary to our usual repertoire in the opening segment of a game, the boys swept the ground up with some flowing precision rugby. The forward unit was able to stake claim to being master of the ruck and maul winning countless phases in the opposition half. Quick work at the breakdown and fluidity in passing inside and outside the tackle meant that hoppers had clearly dominated the possession and territory for the main part of these initial exchanges. Particular players to mention was Charlie with his string fixed running giving metres of progress from each touch and Neo’s dynamic wing play (and exceptional tackling too – certainly a match winning tackle in the last quarter). With the first try coming from a looping play running across the field from right to left and some fine finishing by Neo, it looked on course for a good result.

ACT ONE – PART THREE “The sound of distant bells chiming”
Hoppers capitulation in the first 2 quarters was most disappointing to watch, but must have been far harder to play in. It seemed that the ancient art of tackling low had been but a distant memory. The Leigh boys had a fixed plan for the game. “Pass to the big lad and follow his shirtsleeves” was the clear option in their game. Unfortunately this proved to successful, in the short term at least. Failure to use the aged old “tackling” techniques taught over the ages since William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran, was to be our downfall with two quick tries in succession being their reward for our uneasy defence.

Quick discussion between the sticks seemed to leave us with a sense of foreboding for the rest of the half. Similarly our reticence to play the basic “Non Hollywood” (Justin’s term for our blind passing) rugby was to leave us with a bad taste in our mouths and the need for two tries to level the game (This following a single score for us the visitors and another for our hosts).

ACT TWO – PART ONE “Return of the Jedi”
(Scene – A proud clump of molten players stood aloft from the brooding depths of callous merseysiders. Each man fixed to go into the battle with swords aloft and shields at full mast. A chorus of supportive gestures were thrown from the Lieutenant of the insect themed troops as they ascended to the pitch for the final time! *Poetic Licence held by Glen Clifton)

We knew we had to strike hard, fast and precisely to at least end the game with a tie. The boys had the chance to get a fair return for a fair days play. Alex, Lincoln and Jak held up the reformed back unit with some precision passing and excellent link up play. James and Max C took the momentum in the forwards with the supporting cast taking a lead role in readjusting the scrums back in our favour and rucks against the head. With two tries played in the midsection of this quarter Linc boot would give us the draw. It didn’t disappoint.

With the coaches in an unholy chorus of “Kick the ball into touch” and  the Hollywood-esque (*copyright JK Productions) “Just kick the bloody ball out Jak” the lads saw in a well deserved draw.  Perhaps today we didn’t have the tackling power of the mighty all blacks, or the strength to score end to end tries with points galore; what we really had was a group of 27 wizened soldiers fighting back against an immovable object, an almost impossible task. Bearing in mind the other significant event from this day in history, this was the felling of our own “Berlin Wall”. Well done all.

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