National Colts Cup 1st Round 21/9/12
Kenilworth Colts travelled to Burton on Saturday in the first round of the National Colts Cup, with a team heavily depleated, missing 10 boys through unavailability and the age rule factor applicable to this competition. Last year it was an U19 competition, the same as the Warwickshire Cup, but this has been changed this year, much to the frustration of many club sides who see Colts rugby as U19.
Burton had requested the fixture be played at 19:00 on their 1st XV pitch, as several of their rugby posts had been vandalized and they lacked pitches for all their home matches, but this proved not possible as many of the Kenilworth players had prior work commitments. So the match was played usual time at the Shobnall Leisure Complex, on a small pitch inside a running track, with the lads having to change in what can only described as a small wire cage, with a £10 deposit for the key to be able to get in and out!! I am hugely grateful to Josh O’Brien, who had played a match in the morning and had managed to get to Burton before kick-off, only to be told that he would also be playing out of position at fly-half!! He responded in true gritty Kenilworth fashion and produced a blinder of a game.
Burton Colts have a huge squad of 60 boys and from what we witnessed before kick-off, are a very well drilled squad who train hard two times a week. They conquered last year’s Colts in the quarter-finals of this trophy, so we knew they would be a highly competent outfit.
The game started at a fierce pace and Burton’s large pack tried to out muscle their Kenilworth visitors, but they got very little change, especially in the scrums, where, like last week, our front row dominated their larger counterparts and had them back-wheeling at most scrums. It was in the lineout that the hosts dominated Kenilworth, with their 6 foot 4 inch No4 gaining most of the ball.
The first try of the game went to Burton, who neatly worked and overlap on the right wing to score and unconverted try. Kenilworth responded quickly with a superb try scored by captain Ed Hannam, who ran in from the half-way line, dummying as he went over in the corner following a good link between Dan Rink at No8 and Cory Joy at scrum-half. The try went unconverted to level the score at 5-5, but a silly offside, quickly allowed Burton to gain the ascendency again.
Kenilworth then let Burton score two soft tries, firstly with the poorest of attempted tackles after losing the ball in the tackle and following a series of penalties against us, their prop smashed through again poor attempts to tackle. This allowed them a platform (20-5), which was undeserved, but one that means we are chasing the game. A good series of drives took us close to the Burton line and following a tapped penalty, Matt Gibson drove over the line and scored a try by touching the ball on the post, the conversion being charged down! We were back in the game at half-time.
In the second-half, we continued to dominate them in the scrum and put them under pressure on their own ball, but they dominated the line-out. The good news was that they couldn’t kick from hand that well so didn’t dominate possession. The loose was fiercely contested with the Kenilworth loosies doing a great job in securing a lot of ball in the tackle.
However, this hard work was undone yet again with half-hearted tackling and a kick charged down which allowed Burton to get two cheap tries, to take the score to 32-10. The lads didn’t let their heads drop and a great try on the left wing by Yan Francis, following good hands inside gave Stuart Budd a very difficult conversion from out wide and into a slight breeze. I did say to my fellow coaches that I would be very surprised if Stuart managed to convert such a difficult kick and bet "more than a pint" on it. Well blow me down, he hit it perfectly and it sailed through the posts. That’s two pints I owe you!!
The final score of 32-17 didn’t fully reflect the difference between the two sides and Burton coaches were very relieved when the final whistle went. Sadly, a substitute for Burton who had just come onto the pitch, got his head into the wrong place in a tackle and was immediately knocked out. Fast thinking from Ed Hannam, who got the game stopped immediately and stood over the player to protect him and Sam Cullen quickly removed the lad’s gumshield to stop him choking. Deggy sprinted on to the pitch and assisted in helping the poor lad. An ambulance was called for and we were relieved to hear that he was sitting up in hospital joking with medical staff. Burton officials asked for their thanks to be passed to all the lads and Deggy, who had literally saved the day.
Despite losing, all the boys should be incredibly proud of their performance and everyone showed great courage against a good side. We will go into the National Colts Plate and on the evidence of this game, I bet we will do very well. Thanks again to Josh O’Brien for coming to our rescue – I bet he slept well on Saturday night. Also a big thanks to Max Wiggins and Tom Clitherow, who were unused substitutes, who kept the lads supplied with water and supported the team – their turn will come. A proud day for Kenilworth.