Newark U12s Tri-Fixture v. Southwell & Meden Vale
Knights show the Tigers the best way forward
Written by; Ian Gooden & Vince Corley
Checked; Alan Staines
As the fogged lifted on a mild Sunday morning, we welcomed Southwell and Meden Vale to a U12’s tri-fixture at Kelham Road. Both the Knights and the Tigers played one game each against both visiting teams.
Newark U12 Knights 5 v Southwell 2
Squad; Alfie A, Finn, Freddie, Henry B, Ted, James, Matthew, Ethan H, Alfie M, Adam, Thomas, Jack, Joe R, Francisco, Calum
The first few exchanges often determine the Knights overall performance. Today was no exception. Fast out of the blocks, the Knights forwards created real pressure. Freddie, Ted and Finn putting huge work rate in at the breakdown to put Southwell under immediate pressure. Good decision-making from Alfie M at scrum half ensured we kept control – with fast ball to our backs creating many opportunities.
If the Knights have had a consistent problem this season it has been tackling too high. Today that was decisively overcome. Jack representing Newark in his first competitive game in particular proving that even the biggest opponent can be overcome with the right technique. A contribution that was to win him today’s Man of Steel award.
Coaching focus in the weeks ahead will include knowing when not to kick. Twice the Knights made bad decisions that put them under immediate pressure – Southwell regaining possession and running the ball back hard. On one occasion resulting in a well-worked try.
There were also a couple of moments of panic when defending inside our own 22. It is vital players retain their positions and keep their shape. “Too many voices” can also play a part – we need to trust the decisions of players in key positions like scrum half and fly half.
Overall though it was a great team performance against a competitive Southwell team.
Newark U12 Knights 9 v Meden Vale 0
Physically, Meden Vale were a different proposition. The Knights responded brilliantly with a fast flowing game that never allowed our visitors to build on their physical advantage. Tackling was again of the highest order, low, brave and brilliantly executed resulting in a well desired “clean sheet”
The game brought out both the best and worst of the Knights. The best was a fluent attacking performance that saw our forwards repeatedly steal the ball at he breakdown. Callum was also impressive at hooker winning multiple strikes against the head.
One of our sport’s key values is respect – something the coaches believe is core to Newark’s ethos. When ahead by a big margin we need to bear that in mind and avoid “showboating”. Be proud of the result, but allow the opposition to leave the pitch with their heads high.
Two very good results saw the Knights maintain their 100% record. Player of the Week was awarded to Ted for both a high tempo personal performance and for genuine leadership on the field.
Newark U12 Tigers 7 v Meden Vale 1
Coaches; Vince & Richard
Squad; Lewis, Tommy, Ethan B, Oscar C, Joe D, Euan, Mckenzie, Alex, Patrick, Noah, Harley, Henry M, Alexander, Reuben, Dom, Oscar W
A quick score by Henry in the first couple of minutes, running in unopposed should have told the Tigers the easiest way forward………move the ball into space! Meden Vale were a large and physically strong team which the Tigers totally neglected to recognise and adopt into a “Game plan”. The second was a well worked try created by a “chip and chase” by Oscar being collected by Ethan in the middle of the pitch, Alex supporting and recycling the ball at the breakdown quickly for Henry who still had a couple of defenders to beat to score in the corner.
Disappointingly our tackling was once again repeatedly too high and ineffective against the large Meden Vale players, this gave them plenty of forward momentum and just before half time after a sustained period of pressure Meden Vale darted over in the corner to keep them in the game.
The lads recognised their mistakes at half time and immediately stamped their authority on the game from the restart, Euan caught the ball from the kick off and charged at the defensive gap breaking the gain line and taking the ball back into Meden Vales half, Reuben supporting at the ruck quickly recycling the ball to Ethan on the blind side who ran in unopposed.
We continued to make the game too difficult, choosing the take the ball into contact instead of passing into space, when we did eventually move the ball we looked exceptional and Meden Vale could not cope with our width and pace, an excellent move with all the backs handling the ball was unfortunately dropped by Henry over the line.
We saved the best till last and showed we have the ability and competence to score a fantastic try against a physically strong team, Dom started a counter attack from well inside our half off a Meden Vale kick, Joe D supporting and sidestepped his way through the defensive line, as the cover tacklers closed him down, Joe moved the ball to Ethan in space, who passed out to Alexander, some excellent cover talking by Meden Vale stopped Alexander 5 meters short, Ethan supporting moved the ball quickly to Oscar who went over unopposed. Rugby is a game of evasion and when we play as a team and move the ball into space the Tigers are deadly!
Newark U12 Tigers 6 v Southwell 3
Southwell were a very different proposition and asked a lot of questions of the Tigers, some which we simply didn’t have the answers to throughout the first half! Poor tackling and lack of implementing the game plan continued which resulted in a scrappy and frustrating first 15 mins.
The lads simply did not implement what we’ve been coaching all season! We lacked organisation, leadership and no foundation was established through phases of play. As Dom said “In the first half we played as bad as England and Newark 1st team on Saturday!”
After a long period of defence, we eventually turned round 2-3 behind and the players had to ask themselves if they had the ambition to keep this seasons unbeaten run on the tracks! After some frank words the coaches left the players in the half time huddle to collectively decide the way forward which seemed to do the trick.
Pleasingly the Tigers were really quick out the blocks in the second half and scored some well worked tries in quick succession which put the game out of reach of Southwell early in the second half. From the kick off we drove down the middle and then Oscar and Ethan moved the ball wide quickly with Noah hitting a great line at pace and scored in the corner. Patrick in his first game for Newark was one of the few Tigers who battled well at the breakdown and consistently took the ball forward, consequently for his efforts Patrick was awarded Player of the Week. After a period of sustained pressure, Alex ran at the gap with real determination from a penalty and with driving support managed to force his way over the line.
We finished strongly especially in defence, Southwell pinned us back in the corner on our line and we defended with real teamwork to keep them out after conceding a number of penalties.
All credit to Southwell who rucked well and disrupted the breakdown constantly, as a team the Tigers dug deep and produced an excellent second half performance, we need to focus on reproducing for the full match in future!
Two games next week, Knights at home who entertain our friends from a Yarnbury touring side and Tigers are playing away against new opposition at Sheffield RUFC, Tigers to meet at Kelham road for 9am, we will leave by 9.10am latest.
As a reminder it is crucial that players set their availability on pitchero to be selected to play.