Hazelwood proved to be our toughest opponents, by a clear mile, so far this season. They were well drilled and were not afraid of the contact area. They had their clear strengths and opted to use the same 3 or 4 boys in attack as often as possible and it was down to our boys to stop the attacks early.

Over the course of the game we had the lion’s share of possession but often found it difficult to make clear breaks and did not seem to be playing with the same intensity as normal. All that said it was us who took the lead via some route-one rugby. A handful of close phases resulted in Shams crossing over the line. We then proceeded to throw our lead away following a poor kick chase where we found ourselves, uncharacteristically, too narrow which allowed their speedster to run the length of the pitch to level the scores. We did manage to make amends when Sam P found space on the left wing and was able to race clear just before half time to give us a 2-1 lead.

This was the tightest contest the boys had been in for a long time and the physicality of the game was beginning to show. It was Hazelwood who came out of the break the brighter and began to get a foothold on the match. For all of our possession we could not seem to break clear and with this came mistakes. The navy and pinks were quick to capitalise and punished us on 3 occasions to take a 4-2 lead with little time left on the clock. Pride was now at stake and the boys rallied for one final push. Some solid phase play sucked in the opposing defence and some quick thinking freed up Sam R who unselfishly passed to Luke who had acres of space to reduce the deficit to 1 try. With time still left on the clock we attacked again and were awarded a scrum 20 metres out. Unfortunately we were unable to make the most of the opportunity and Hazelwood stole the ball, kicking it off the pitch to take the victory.

In regards to learning, our boys will gain far more from this game than they did against Cottesmore, Pennthorpe, St Christopher’s and Lancing Prep. Line speed in defence was not quite there today, so that will be a focus in the coming weeks. The boys know that they were not quite at the races and they have assured me that they will make up for it against Ashdown House…I believe them.