Trojans U14's seeded squad v Alton 24th April 2016
By Paul Datson
Trojans U14's overcome strong challenge from Alton
The seeded squad's last game of the season saw them up against very tough opposition in the shape of Alton, who have been one of the top 5 teams in Hampshire this season. Six months ago we traveled to Alton and were beaten comfortably. We were outplayed, particularly in the forwards where we simply didn't compete. The boys were told that today's result would be measure of the progress they have made since that day. There were some changes to the back line with Aubrey at 12, Linton at 13 and Rodrigo at 14, but importantly the regular forward pack started the match.
The boys did not start well and missed too many tackles. The forwards found it difficult to keep possession and were not forceful enough at the breakdowns. However, there were some occasional breaks from the backs. Aubrey made a good early run deep into the opposition half only to be tackled into touch. Alton came back strong and played the game in our half, scoring the first try after 10 minutes. It was converted to make the score 0-7. Soon after we lost Thomas and Linton to injury and had to re-group. We continued to spend a lot of time in our own half, but the defending improved, with Matt and Aubrey leading the tackle count. Michael decided to relieve the pressure by kicking the ball deep into the opposition half. It was well followed up and the ball went out to Ollie who looked to be running in a try when he was tackled into touch close to the try line. The tackle was dangerously high and a penalty was awarded but Trojans didn't take advantage. They also squandered possession from a line-out close to the try line. There was a degree of panic and disorganisation amongst the players and too many promising situations were wasted.
The beginning of the second half saw Aaron go off injured and Fraser filled in at prop. Trojans then slowly began to get themselves back in the game and it continued be an absorbing contest between the two teams. Despite a much improved performance by the forwards, Trojans were still not creating many scoring opportunities. Euan was unlucky not to have a try awarded when he made a strong solo run and appeared to get the ball over the line. Captain Finlay had to go off with what appeared to be concussion from an earlier incident when he was tackled and dropped on his head. With 10 minutes to go we had a team talk where it was pointed out that we were gaining the upper hand against a tiring team. They were deliberately keeping their better players on the pitch in an attempt to hold out under increasing Trojans pressure. I told them that they were getting closer and closer to scoring and that with just 5% more effort they would get there. Sure enough, Fraser stepped up and with an astute pick and go spotted a gap and sprinted over the line to score a deserved equalising try. Matt coolly converted to tie the score at 7-7. The momentum was now very much with Trojans. Their comeback was attracting a good crowd who were vociferous in support. Then came a brilliant run from Man of the Match Oscar. When he was eventually brought down the ball was re-cycled and Ash crashed over to score the winning try in the last minute of the game. Matt converted again to make the final score 14-7.
It was a great finish to a hard fought match and capped an excellent second half performance. By the end of the match the boys were more of a physical threat than Alton, thus proving that they have stepped up a level in the second half of the season. It was also testimony to all the conditioning work the boys have been doing this year under Ian's direction. To be able to win a tough game in the last 10 minutes was a superb physical effort. It was also good to see players coming up from the development squad and fitting in so well. Rodrigo justified his selection with some good runs and tackled well and Lucas came close to scoring after coming on as sub.
As Head Coach I am immensely proud of what the boys have achieved this season. Well done to all who played for the seeded squad this season.