The boys were clearly looking forward to their first match of the New Year as we travelled to Pennthorpe this week. Playing down the hill, early indications were good as some smooth interplay soon saw Finlay run in the first try. When Pennthorpe had possession, however, we were looking less organised and a notable lack of tackling led to a quick response to make the score 1-1. More slick handling and good footwork saw Henri score from close range and this was followed by a good run by Christopher for the third. Pennthorpe had a couple of strong runners and our tendency to bunch around the middle of the pitch in defence led to two quick scores for the hosts due to an absence of organisation in defence and commitment in the tackle. After this we regained possession and Ronnie danced his way through a packed defence to ensure that we led 3-4 at half time. During the break we spoke about the need to maintain width in defence and to ensure our strong tacklers lined up against their best runners. After the break, we were soon defending stoically but the ball came to Ben who ran the length of the pitch to score an impressive try, stepping and changing direction at least four times en route to the try line. Next, Finley also took the ball near to his own line following a scrum and simply accelerated through a gap to outpace the defence and score another length-of-the-pitch try. The score was now 4-7 and we were looking more comfortable; our defence was better organised and Christopher, Matthew B and Henri were consistently putting in strong tackles and preventing what looked like certain tries. Finley’s deft handling skills were helping unlock the potential defence, as was Rio’s footwork. Both Matthew F and Kochi used their strength in the loose as did Tom. Christopher scored a superb poacher’s try by stealing the ball right on their try line to give him his hatrick and then Ronnie and Ben both ran good lines to complete the scoring to give Copthorne a victory 7-10. Special mention certainly goes to Matthew B and Henri as their tackling kept us in the game, but Man of the Match must go to Christopher who put in numerous tackles but also scoring a hatrick! There is definitely still work to be done on our defence but well done all.