Saturday 4th February saw the BSN Juniors travelling to HRC for another clash with the local rivals. As always with HRC part of the match day excitement is seeing which HRC team emerges on the day and initially the signs were not good as HRC thought the game was starting an hour later than scheduled.
BSN coaching and management endeavour to locate the opposition
Turnout was a little sparse with 19 players available on the day and some notable absentees, including the BSN fullback unable to play due to injury. This was not a good start for an encounter with opposition on home turf, hungry for revenge for the heavy defeat they suffered last time they played BSN.
BSN fullback directs teammates with the curse of the 16/17 season – the rugby equivalent of the broken metatarsal – the broken finger
BSN Juniors eye the opposition during the pre-match huddle
After only 3 minutes BSN was stung by an HRC try following a breakout and aggressive rucking action. A successful conversion followed and for the next few minutes the omens looked bad with concerted HRC pressure countered by dogged and often desperate BSN defence.
Then suddenly, 10 minutes into the game, a BSN breakout started near the BSN 22metre line and moved wide along the back line eventually reaching the HRC 5 metre line, where the ball was forced desperately into touch.
Launched from a period of tenacious defence BSN backs breakout and run the ball to the HRC 5 metre line to the cheers of the spectators
The ensuing BSN lineout was won and the ball was driven over the line in the face of considerable opposition. A successful conversion followed levelling the scores at seven apiece. More importantly however the score bolstered BSN into action and from this point on the game was evenly matched.
Impressive lineout performances were a highlight of the day – a few seconds after this photo Hector powered through the HRC defence from the rear of the line to score BSN’s first points and transform the nature of the game.
The following 10 minutes saw frantic action from both teams, characterised on the part of BSN by powerful driving and breakout action by the forwards. Special mention must go to Hector who was in inspiring form, scoring his and BSN’s, second try after 13 minutes to take the lead.
Coach Campbell “driving play from the forwards and strong running at close quarters was the main attacking weapon on the day”
The lead was short lived however as HRC won the ball from the re-start and drove to the BSN try line near the posts to first level the score and then take the lead at 16 minutes with a successful conversion.
The rest of the half was a frustrating affair with a ‘Jekyl and Hyde’ performance by the BSN forwards. Powerful and dominant set-piece action invariably won the ball but hesitant reactions in the breakdown and especially in rucks saw HRC repeatedly win the ball back and counter-attack, negating previous hard won efforts.
A good BSN scrum performance often dominated HRC
The final breakout of the half saw BSN drive to within meters of the HRC try line, this time following multiple phases of play, but the lads missed out narrowly in the last few seconds, as the half time whistle sounded with a penalty award much to the relief of HRC.
Coaching staff implore forwards at half time to “get-stuck in” in the rucks
The second half started well for BSN and for the first 15 minutes it seemed the half time talk from the coaching staff had really paid off with BSN dominating the game.
BSN No.8 breaks from behind the scrum and powers towards the HRC backs
Tries by Seb C and Dennis after two and seven minutes in to the half were made possible by great teamwork and, notably aggressive forward play in the breakdowns, pushing HRC back on each encounter.
HRC forward limps away sporting an impressive lump on the forehead – following checkout on the sideline he happily rejoined the match
Tension started to grow both on and off the pitch however as the balance of the game started to noticeably shift and all credit to HRC they dug deep threatening BSN repeatedly.
A great performance form the BSN forwards in set piece play was a hallmark of this encounter
An HRC try and conversion at 23 minutes left BSN narrowly in the lead but against the tide of play it seemed BSN would cling on after all. Heartbreakingly however, with effectively the last play of the game, HRC broke through the BSN defensive line and touched down in the corner to take the lead at 30 minutes elapsed.
A last ditch attack by HRC breaks through the BSN defence to snatch the lead and match at 30 minutes
The final whistle sounded concluding a frustrating match. Echoing the coach’s post match debrief there were some fantastic individual performances and BSN dominated set-piece play, but the team really missed some key power players on the day and a sometimes hesitant approach in the breakdown and rucks eventually told.
The training sessions next week, will I suspect reflect these concerns in an attempt to prevent them being exploited even more aggressively by next weeks opponents – Hookers!
Game stats: courtesy Neville ‘stato’ Conway:
1st Half – Tries HRC2 2 : 2 BSN, Conversions HRC2 2 : 1 BSN
Half time score: HRC2 14 : 12 BSN
2nd Half – Tries HRC2 2 : 2 BSN, Conversions HRC2 2 : 2 BSN
Full time score: HRC2 26 : 22 BSN
Backs – Jay, Safwan, Arthur, Eduardo, Sam, Seb C, Seb CL, William
Forwards: Stuart, Mika, Kieran, Alex, Elliot, Hector, Sandy, Laurens, Dennis, Zhangir, Peter