Blackheath U12s vs. Richmond U12s
The Utilita @ Well Hall, Saturday November 11th, KO @ 1.30pm
In a weekend steeped in history, the Utilita hosted ‘The Big Match’. The Blackheath v Richmond fixture is the oldest continuing meeting of two rugby clubs in the world and was first played on January 2nd 1864. Both clubs have been great rivals and great friends over the years and it was with immense pride that our own U12s could write their own chapter to this historic fixture.
A triple header at the Utilita, two-minute silence to observe Remembrance weekend, a guard of honour for the 1st XV and an unbeaten Club U12 run – if the occasion wasn’t enough to motivate the team, then a surprise appearance from our own superstar supporter Freya during the warm up certainly did. Pre-match warm ups and drills completed, a rousing pep talk from the Captain, Gregor O’Sullivan, and the boys couldn’t wait for the kick-off.
A brilliant opening few minutes saw some excellent quick phases of play from club, with Oliver Marnham crossing the try line in the far corner and opening Clubs account for the day. It was clear from the off that Club were up for the game, with the forwards dominating the upfront battle. Quick, effective ruck ball from Oliver Marnham and Oliver Simpson gave scrum-half Herbie Murray-Jones the perfect platform to release the backs and with quick hands through the back line, Jameson Morrison spotted a gap in the Richmond defence. Morrison’s pace and strength took advantage of the gap and ran in a great team try on 4th minute.
Blackheath restarted, and a clean take from the kickoff allowed a quick offload from the forwards to the Richmond centres. The early try did not dissuade the visiting side and they demonstrated excellent handling skills. Blackheath’s defensive line speed was immense, ensuring that Richmond were constantly under pressure. This pressure was no more so demonstrated by Rafi Verillo who, having just returned from a hand injury, put in a thumping tackle to allow Club a turnover ball. A quick offload saw a trademark searing run from Oscar Benns, slipping a tackle in the process.
First scrum of the game came around minute 6, allowing the backs to try out some of the moves they’ve practiced. A well worked loop and a super run from Dexter Bloomer, who was unlucky not to be rewarded with a try. Richmond were penalised for a high tackle, and with a crash ball George Woodside bounced over the line… not the last time.
Richmond heads didn’t drop at all and Club kickoff saw another crisp take, offloading into the Richmond midfield. Richmond’s passing was excellent, moving the ball wing-to-wing and really asked questions of Club’s defence. A high hand off from Richmond, gave Club a penalty and respite from sustained defensive duties. The penalty found its way to George Woodside , a clever side step and jinking run saw another try (3-0). Rolling subs allowed Club’s own “mini bomb squad” come on and instantly delivered, with Lorcan Reilly putting in a crushing tackle on the 12th minute. Club, looking to maintain control of the game, saw Fintan Jennings demonstrating some silky footballing skills, with deft passes to release Oscar Benns on the wings.
Not to be outdone by the backs, it was the turn of the forwards to display their skill. A brilliant turn over ball released Gregor O’Sullivan on a powerful run, resulting in a scrum close to the Richmond line. Richmond took the ball against the head and their fly half kicked it downfield deep into Club territory putting club under considerable pressure. It took a great tackle by AJ Warman to take the sting out of the Richmond attack and allow Club to regroup and regain territory. Great forwards linking play, saw crash balls from Rafe Langman-Heath and a superb piece of individual skill from Bear Willians that allowed Ted Keohane to back himself and run in a first try of the season on the 19th minute (4-0) and bring the first half to a close.
The U12 half time team talks never fails; with some well observed and insightful motivation from both Captain and Players saw Club ready to go at the opening kick-off. Richmond received, and again were on the front foot testing Club’s defence. Turnover ball allowed Max Odlin-Peftibay to demonstrate the handling skills he has honed at touch rugby every Monday.
Some uncharacteristically sloppy play, gave Richmond a penalty in the 2nd minute. This U12 side didn’t panic and responded with a trademark Issac Fitzsimmons tackle, backed by a ferocious Oliver Simpson counter ruck. Which scrum half in Kent wouldn’t want a platform that this team can provide? Decisive quick ball from no9 allowed a powerful run by Dexter Bloomer, pass to George Woodside who flew over for his hat-trick.
Club tails were up and, with confidence peaking, treated the supporters to a superlative display of skill. Around the 8thminute, Issac Fitzsimmons found the ball, taking a slight angled run, sold a dummy and around his opposite number, offloaded a beautifully weighted pass to Gregor O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan to Woodside… and his 4th try (6-0) . Kick off , another crisp phase of play saw Austin Thilgarajah score his first try of the season around minute 10. (6-0). Even with a comfortable lead, Club never let up, Oliver Simpson diving on an open ball secured turnover ball that allowed yet another George Woodside try (8-0) and in the dying second of the half, Dexter Bloomer also running in to close the game.
Full time whistle brought an end to a game that will be remembered by players, coaches and supporters alike as a very special occasion. Both sides played with tremendous spirit, sportsmanship and demonstrating rugby values. For Club, we played with intensity, passion and speed; it was quite simply a brilliant, full team display.
Everyone should be very proud of what they did on Saturday, this is a very special group of players and we include the new joiners in that number. Whilst we have mentioned a few players in this report it was only through the whole squad contribution that the result was possible.
Thanks again to all parents, grandparents and guardians who came along to support today. Your support helps everyone make an impact on the pitch.
Our next match is at The Utilita @ Well Hall V Old Elthamians, Sunday 19th November KO @ 11:30am. Please come along and support us if you can.