Clifton RFC | Under 15s 38 - 10 Chepstow RFC | Under 15s

Match Report
22 October 2017 / Team News

Match Report u15s v Clifton RFC

The team travelled to Clifton knowing that the toughest game of the season lay ahead.
Encouraged by last weeks defensive performance against Monmouth, the team knew that they had to step up if they were to stand any chance.

The team approached the warm up with energy and accuracy and prepared for the physical confrontation that a big Clifton side would bring.

The final team talk spoke about leadership on the field and solving problems that the opposition would present us during the game and changing tactics accordingly.

The first half became an arm wrestle with the referee keen to be a strong influence on the game. The break down was scrappy and penalties were awarded regularly to both teams.
What was apparent was the size and strength of the Clifton forwards. This meant that we had to commit increased numbers to the breakdown to secure ball and make sure we tackled accurately and low to stop them at the gain line.

We secured enough ball through our set piece work to be able to attack the opposition but continued to play rugby in the wrong areas of the pitch. We attempted to move the ball wide whilst under pressure from the defence and were driven back as a result. Clifton capitalised on this and took possession of the ball in our half and we struggled to relieve the pressure when the opportunity presented itself. Clifton’s game-plan was to drive strongly through their forwards around the fringes and only a very committed defensive display kept them out.
Lloyd, Morgan and Nathan led the way but eventually the pressure told and we could not keep them out. A converted try meant that we were 7-0 down and under real pressure.

Before the game restarted we emphasised that we had not played any phases in the Clifton half and spoke about gaining a territorial foothold in the game.
The advice was not heeded and we again tried to play rugby in our on half and attack too laterally with slow ball being shipped along the backline with no threat to the gain line.
We soon found ourself under pressure as a result and looked like we were about to go two scores down. Clifton attacked through their forwards before quickly recycling the ball and moving it wide. A try looked a certainty as we were outnumbered. Will Morgan made a great read and with great line speed flew up out of the defensive line. He intercepted the scoring pass but still had over 80m to go. He outran the cover defence to score a great individual try wide out. The conversion was missed but we had a foothold in the game at half time. Score 7-5.

We wanted to make a strong start in the 2nd half and spoke about applying pressure to Clifton. The team were asked to kick more and play the game in the opposition half.
This didn’t happen, and opportunities to turn the opposition were not taken. We struggled to go forward around the fringes and any ball that was distributed to the backs was slow and easy to defend. The game was taking a similar pattern to the first half with Chepstow trying to attack under sever pressure.

We tried to relieve pressure through a kick down the middle from a penalty. The kick ran on deep into Clifton territory and what we needed was a good kick chase.
This didn’t happen with two or three players putting in huge effort to chase the ball. Others unfortunately couldn’t make up the ground and our defensive line was disjointed. Missed tackles compounded the problem and Clifton broke deep into our half. Good handling by their backs released their wing who scored a very good try.

Unfortunately this was not the only try to be conceded like this. Penalties to touch were missed and Clifton’s counter attack and our missed tackles led to several tries being scored from long range.

The only time we applied pressure to our opponents in the 2nd half was when we chased a restart deep into the opposition 22. This is only time we spent time there and it made a huge difference. This time, it was Clifton who were guilty of playing rugby under the shadow of their own posts. Aggressive line speed meant that they spilt the ball and we had an opportunity to attack.
From a scrum 5m out, Nathan picked up and drove aggressively. He carried several defenders over the line for a thoroughly deserved try.

Unfortunately we conceded a couple of tries late on as we dropped off tackles and allowed their forwards to gain momentum. Final score 38-10 and hopefully lessons will be learnt from today’s game. We play Clifton again later in the year and have the opportunity to test ourselves again.

Things to be pleased about.
Set piece work. Scrum was solid throughout against a bigger heavier pack, with Joe and Luke both filling in to cover Jayden’s absence.
Line out possession was secure with both Macsyn and Euan winning a lot of ball at the front of the line out.
Line speed from breakdown was maintained throughout the game.

Things to work on.
Tackles need to be made lower against bigger opposition. Ball carriers need to be brought to ground early and the ball competed for by the 2nd defender.
Our kick chase was poor today. It was disjointed and allowed the opposition to counter attack. Once our defensive line was broken, too many tackles were missed. Communication and organisation need to be improved.
Game management - we have to learn that sometimes we are more of a threat without the ball. We played today under severe pressure. Always in our own half and always trying to move the ball against a very organised defence. We need to have the confidence to give the ball away and trust our defence. Territory is an increasingly important part of the game.

The boys kept working hard today and never gave up and their attitude is always positive. We will learn from today’s experience and be better for it.
Well done everyone.

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