U14's unbeaten run on the first team pitch
By John Brett
Who doesn't love a local derby
Yes I know this was our first ever game on the first team pitch, in fact until the morning half of the U14s didn’t know where the first team pitch was and the other half didn’t know we had one such is the bubble-wrapped reverence surrounding the big boys grass. Still, 1 from 1 is 100%, maths don’t lie and that my friends is an unbeaten run.
Evesham v Bredon, there is nothing like a local derby and this has the added spice of the entire Prince Henry’s school team mixed between the sides. Monday morning bragging rights up for grabs for sure and the great player migration from Evesham to Bredon a few years ago still a motivation. This much anticipated game tempted a record crowd to an U14 match with parents, grandparents, godparents and even players girlfriends - present and probably a few future - this whole 'girls who aren’t sisters' turning up is a recent thing. I even spotted Jamie - Evesham's Director of Rugby and Gary the First XV Head Coach having a sneaky peek at the pipeline of players.
with an excitable bench of finishers Ash, Ben, Max, Jake, Jacob H, Luc and Ethan
Pretty even first 10 minutes, both sides probing and met with equal resistance, going to be a decent test for both teams especially given the cold, wind and hail. Bredon arrived with exactly 15 shirts filled, an injury early in the first half solicited a request for a loan player, Evesham's subs politely declined the kind offer - Maroon and Blue through and through are my boys, there is a fierce loyalty to the badge and you have to respect that, so we immediately dropped a player, co-captain Law taking one for the team to keep the contest equitable. Dropping a player didn’t last long however as Jamie, no stranger to the hallowed turf himself as Evesham's current First XV physio did a great job of 'sticking tape over the hurty bits' to keep Bredon at 15 players for the entire match.
An Evesham try in the right hand corner for Aggy was chalked off as 'held up' but this set Evesham deep in Bredon's half and after the scrum and a few phases of recycled ball against a very determined defense Laurie was over for the first try of the game. This was a result of great team work to retain the ball and with George converting, Eves made this visit across enemy lines count for 7.
Evesham receive and get the ball through the hands wide to Jackson who is off like a brides nightie up the left wing and is only stopped by a courageous tackle. Evesham continue the pressure to recycle through several phases close to the Bredon line, Sam, Fraser and Lawson all involved before George took the last truck up to touch down in the left corner. It stayed at 12-0 however, any of the assembled girlfriends with pony tails and fashion trainers would have taken a better kick than George did.
Great tackles by Josh with no regard for any future use for his arms, Elliot tackling like his lunch depended on it and Joe put in a big stop to halt an advance out wide. Half time arrived far too soon, a most entertaining game, both sides playing some lovely rugby and doing their defense coaches proud.
Change of staff, finishers on and we are off again. Both sides continue to compete well at the breakdown, scrums solid, first team pitch looking less like a billiard table now showing plenty of work going through it. A few exploratory kicks tidied well by Bailey and delivered back to our forwards, solid tackles from Mad Dog, Josh, Laurie, Jacob H (as ever) and Owen.
A bit of endeavor up the left side was rewarded in a breakaway try for Tristan in the left corner (which should have been run around to beneath the posts - we will talk about that). George fluffed the kick, to be fair Tristan had touched down closer to Pershore than many of us feel comfortable to go. 17-0. Evesham continued to repel Bredon's relentless test of the defense then secure the ball and Ethan takes off powering through and over, under the posts this time and converted 24-0. An almost exact replay a few minutes later made it 31-0.
I am all for passion, belief and team bonding behind a common cause, the lads were all fizzing like bottles of pop before the game which showed in the energy level on the pitch. It can boil over occasionally and with 10 minutes to go Eves had a player sent off for a second spot of language ‘one notch below that expected of a young gentleman’, the colour of the card matching the vicar's blushes. Down to 14 so some serious defensive shifts required to keep a clean sheet.
Bredon are no slouches and the continued pressure eventually resulted in a well deserved try in the right hand corner, a big ask of the kicker however, we stay at 31-5. Tired legs and sore bodies out there now, must be close to time but not before Ethan breaks for one last try, converted again by George to close the game 38-5.
Ben had a very respectable rumble on his return from injury, Max was enthusiasm personified and loving every second out on the wing and looking good in front of the crowd, Jake continued to distribute as well as Owen before him, Luc kept the ball alive in the midfield with no-look passes a plenty and Ash grew into the second half shoring up a very tired defensive line.
A great game to watch, more of a contest than the score line suggests and a first win for Evesham against Bredon in this age group since U9. The early start to preseason, the addition of Geraint to complement the coaching setup with some gritty doggedness from the valleys and a few welcome new faces (Elliot, Aggy and Max) have combined to set a much more confident path for this team.
Laurie had a nosebleed even before a whistle was blown and by full time looked like he had broken into the kit-shed using only his face. Lineouts worked well, mostly, Jacob threw a lovely ball down the centre of a lineout only for the wind to take it 150 degrees right and it land almost next to him, a moment of comedy in what was otherwise a very focused tussle by two determined teams.
In summary, a great performance from the lads but by no means perfect, lots of improvement opportunities starting at training on Wednesday. We are at the beginning of a journey with much more to come from this group of boys. There will be a rib or two tickled at PHHS on Monday morning on the back of Eves long awaited swing in fortunes, but it will all be done in the best possible taste I am sure.
To Andy from the U16 for agreeing to switch pitches and let the boys get a first run on the manicured velvet of Pitch 1
Huge thanks to Chris for refereeing - always a thankless task especially with a touchline filled with experts
Thanks to Bredon for visiting and making such a game of it
Dave and Jas for keeping this side running a few years ago when it might so easily have folded
Thanks to Laura for the half time oranges, cut into very equal quarters and very much appreciated by the lads
Special thanks to Geraint (that’s a real name in Wales) who was instrumental in the preseason and subsequent coaching ethos yet somehow avoids the attention. 'I don’t want thanks, I prefer to work in the shadows' he tells me which raises more than one question but does explain his horrifyingly white legs.