Norwich Crusaders RUFC U16 21 v Bury St Edmunds RUFC U16 31
By Kirk Bonas
The Fabulous Fourteen!
Following an outstanding performance at Saffron Walden the team travelled into Norfolk to play Norwich Crusaders. Having never met before in a contest, everyone was unsure what to expect, this was also coupled with numerous withdrawals from the team for a variety of reasons which left only 13 available players. Fortunately, one member of the U15's stepped up to join the team providing 14 players who could compete against the 15 from Crusaders.
Unperturbed by the numerical imbalance, initially play was very much in the hosts half and it was no surprise when the team claimed the first score, quickly followed by another to lead 12-0. Crusaders grew into the game, their strong forwards working tirelessly and aggressively to secure ball, and a sharp line break enabled them to gain their first score. Following the restart, strong running and effective defence again contained Crusaders in their own half and a well constructed phase of play allowed another score in the corner to stretch the lead once again. However, just short of half time Crusaders again showed their resolve to score again, entering into the interval the score was 17-14 to the team.
Warm Spring conditions had impacted upon the available fourteen, one nursing an injured knee, whilst the others had worked tirelessly to contain Crusaders attack and prevent space for the additional man. Crusaders started the second half on the front foot and following some loose possession from the team, seized on an opportunity to take the lead with a score under the posts. However, never did head's drop and the team responded by imposing pressure back on Crusaders in their own half. Eventually the pressure told and the team regained the lead with a strong run and score under the posts. With the game still in the balance, a scrum on halfway led to the backs being released into space, elusive running outpacing the defence on the outside, culminating with the full back being sat down prior to another deserved score under the posts. Final score 31-21.
In the face of adversity today the fourteen players available displayed all the qualities required to achieve success, including exceptional mental strength playing against extra numbers, willingness to work hard for each other and compete with a physically strong opposition, desire, determination and capped with a significant amount of skill. Everyone who travelled today should be thoroughly proud of their contribution, you were a credit to the club. It wasn't necessarily our best performance of the year, unforced errors still need reducing and greater awareness of how to manage the game when under pressure is required, yet it was a monumental effort considering the circumstances. Our thanks go to Crusaders who were excellent hosts and contributed to a thoroughly hard fought and entertaining game of rugby. Additionally to our parents who travelled today and supported the team admirably whilst outnumbered!