Today’s match against Brambletye would have been difficult to play in and was certainly difficult to watch. The boys did not start with their usual intensity or fluency and this was largely due to the tackling of the opposition. Strong running by Austin, Ben and Sam did not make as much ground as usual and this was immediately noticeable. Nonetheless, some good support play following a break by Charlie produced a ruck on the left and Alex picked up and spotted that the blind side was unguarded and ran over unopposed in the corner. From this moment on, the rest of the first half involved a long period of frantic defence; the work the boys have put in focusing on defensive alignment in training was really paying dividends as they did a good job of keeping their shape and trusting their team mates to do their job. Luca, Sam S and Sam D made good cover tackles on several occasions and the defence held out until a minute or so before half-time when Brambletye managed to get across the line to even the score. One feature of the first half that continued throughout the match however was the amount of ball that we dropped, often when under no pressure. It was just one of those days but this did not help when we were trying to keep some possession and get over the gain line.
The second half continued to feature an impasse between two sides both tackling strongly and neither team making great progress with ball in hand. Sam S tackled strongly again and again and ran hard when he had the chance, Charlie put his body on the line on several occasions and Karan started to relish a very physical contest, bouncing off several players in one barnstorming run. We were into the fourth quarter when a loose ball near half-way popped into Brambletye hands and the player was free down the right wing to score. At this point it was disappointing that the boys let their heads drop and their concentration wane, thus another try followed immediately. Good stepping by Joseph and more determined strong running from both Ben and Austin made good yards but last ditch tackles continued to prevent another try. Final score: Brambletye 3 – 1 Copthorne.
As I write, I have just left some disappointed and deflated boys in the changing rooms, but they will all learn from today’s defeat. The lesson is perhaps a simple one: it is very difficult to beat a determined defence if you keep dropping the ball! Man of the Match could go to several players (as always) but this week it goes to Sam Sypher for never letting his head drop and for keeping trying right to the end.