Final disappointment fails to mask outstanding day
By Andrew Flaxman
Evesham acquit themselves in style at prestigious festival
From the sublime to the rather less than sublime, Evesham's performances across five matches covered all bases on Sunday. Invited to play in the James Allport Festival at Stourbridge, we expected some tough fixtures, given the standard of clubs in attendance and our boys acquitted themselves very well until the final hurdle.
We think this is the first time an Evesham side has been invited to this event and the boys found themselves placed in a group with Newport (Shropshire - not Wales, Isle of Wight or any other Newport), Sutton Coldfield and Old Halesonians. First up was what seemed to be the easier of the three fixtures - Old Hals, who the boys had put to the sword at Worcester a few weeks ago. This one followed the script with Evesham on top from the off and Theo scoring four tries in quick succession before Darcy got in on the act to finish off an excellent passage of support play involving Oli P, Sean and Owen. Harvey then ran in a sixth to leave Evesham as 6-0 winners.
Next up were Newport, who had looked pretty tidy in their first match - a draw with Sutton Coldfield. They still looked tidy as they opened the scoring with a line-breaking charge and a series of offloads to cross the whitewash, before Harry sprinted in to make the score 1-1. The match ebbed and flowed but that was the final score, although Evesham had now lost Darcy to a head injury and Freddie was soon to follow with a sore hamstring.
The lads continued their good play in Match 3 against Sutton Coldfield, racing into a 3-0 lead after tries from Josh N, Harry (a superb jinking run from half-way) and Kal. Then the wheels came off, Evesham coughing up two tries to Sutton's electric left-winger and a third to leave the score 3-3 at the final whistle.
Through the mathematical complexities of scoring, that left Evesham unbeaten, but in the play-offs for positions 5-8 in the 12-team tournament alongside a dangerous-looking Telford, old rivals Stow and Sutton again.
The first match saw them facing Telford who had players with blistering pace and power. And yet....... Evesham played as well as they ever have. They opened the scoring after recycling the ball through several phases and showing excellent handling for Theo to go over in the corner. Telford's own left-wing speedster levelled the scores, but soon faded out of the match after being obliterated into touch by a monster of a Harry tackle. The skipper then put Evesham back into the lead after a wondrous Oli A break. From then on it was a succession of great scores that showcased rucking, support play and handling to put Theo in for three more scores and one apiece for Alex and Harry as the boys ran out 7-1 winners
The play-off final loomed after Sutton saw off Stow, but the less said about this match, the better. Evesham were never at the races in this one, slow to press, missing tackles and comprehensively losing the breakdown. Sutton's winger ran in five tries himself and the final score was 7-1.
Still the lads did themselves proud today and will have enhanced the reputation of Evesham RFC. They have also seen the consistency and intensity that is needed to win games at the highest level.
Best wishes to all the walking wounded - Oli P, Darcy, Harry E and Freddie.
Squad: Jonty; Kal; Harry E; Josh N; Sean: Harvey: Luke D; Josh A; Alex; Darcy; Tom; Angelo; Oli P; Ewan; Django; Owen; Luke R; Theo; Harry; Oli A
Tries: Theo (9); Harry (4); Darcy; Harvey; Josh N; Kal; Alex