Kenilworth Colts played against Old Halesonians at home on Saturday, who fielded a very large senior colts side, who were hell bent on trying to dominate up front with their huge forwards. This game proved beyond doubt that this squad contains a wonderful blend of steel that last season’s U17s have brought to the party together with a youthful determined doggedness from the U16s. Our defense has never been the strongest part of our game, with us always relying on scoring more tries than the opposition to win games with large scores. This year, there is a will not to give away silly points and this was in evidence on Saturday.
Although we had a large initial squad for the game, we lost Olly Brown to flu, Yan Francis was a no-show and we released Matt Gibson and Ryan Hutchinson to the 2nds. We had Ben Bosworth, a tall 2nd row from North Leamington School, making his debut in the 2nd half and marked it with a polished performance in the line out, despite there being no score in the 2nd half.
Early doors, the visiting large forwards tried to drive holes through our 9-13 channels and the centre partnership of Ed Hannam and George Harman stood resolute in smashing back anything that was thrown at them, with a wonderful display of excellent low tackles. The back row of Dan Goode, Max Wiggins, Cory Joy, Sam Cullen, Sean Martin and Lewis Taylor tackled as if their lives depended on it and snuffed out attack after attack when the visitors front five had secured possession, stopping them from getting over the gain line.
The ability to withstand pressure and remain calm in the face of a serious onslaught is a real quality in any side and this squad is proving that it can handle pressure and trade it with the big boys. The front row of Steve Tomlinson, Jason Ford and Conor Barron, despite being far smaller than their counterparts, put in a huge performance against all sorts of pressure and we managed to win most of our line-out ball through James Ray, Max Wiggins and new-boy Ben Bosworth responding well to the accurate throwing in by Sam Cullen and Tom Clitherow.
Joe Ballinger made some telling breaks from the base of the scrum and only the final pass prevented Kenilworth from increasing their lead. Sadly, Joe departed at half-time with a pulling groin, being replaced by Cory Joy.
Having gone behind in the match, Old Halesonians threw the kitchen sink at Kenilworth and despite some brave tackling, their No8 took a crash ball right on the line to score a try that went unconverted, leaving the score at half time 7-5 in favour of the home side.
A raft of substitutions were made at half-time, Will Arnell at full-back for Stuart Budd, Will Field on the wing for George Martin, a complete new back row of Tom Clitherow, Lewis Taylor and Sean Martin (fresh from starring for Warwickshire U20s against Moseley last week) and new-boy Ben Bosworth at 2nd row replacing Henry Weston.
The 2nd half was all about grit and determination, as the weather deteriorated and with Old Halesonians continuing to persevere with a very limited game plan, it required a huge proud and resolute display of defensive rearguard action that the lads could muster and didn’t they deliver!! The half was typified by a terrific chase from the kick-off and Lewis Taylor (legally) hit the receiver with such force that it took minutes for him to get off the floor. Ed and George closed the door firmly in the centre of the field and when the visitors had a series of 5 metre penalties, the spirit and determination of our defensive tackling was an inspiration to those watching the game. Late in the half, Tom Clitherow managed to wrap up one of their big back-rows, held onto him and they failed to recycle the ball and from the resultant scrum, we managed to clear our lines.
From this clearance, we were able to spend the last 6 minutes camped in the Old Halesonian’s 22 and were unlucky not to add to our score through George Harman, who took the ball very close but couldn’t get over the line.
As Ed Hannam kicked the ball off the park following a penalty, the final whistle went and a very gutsy win had been recorded. This was a passionate and proud performance and shows the real spirit building in the squad. Everyone again got good game time and contributed to this great win. Thanks to Matt Gibson and Ryan Hutchinson for turning out for the 2nds – hopefully we will have them back in our fold for next week when we take on the might of Warwick University Freshers, who are warming up for us playing against Warwickshire U20s tonight at Broadstreet.