U12s: Club v Aylesford Bulls

Club 65-25 Aylesford Bulls

A crisp Sunday morning at the Utilita saw the clubs U12’s kick off their campaign in stage two of the Kent Boys Youth league. Blackheath enter the stage following an impressive start to the season with a three to one winning record in round one.

The club’s opponents for the day, Aylesford Bulls, finished their stage one round top of the table with some impressive wins behind them. The scene was set for that was sure to be a hard fought battle for both teams.

Club received from the kick off with a surging run from Oliver Simpson to start proceedings. Offloaded to Oliver Marnham and the ball moves with intent through the boys hands before a loose ball unfortunately goes into touch but the play is called back, advantage Club. The club go again but the ball is turned over with some impressive rucking from Aylesford which they showed throughout. Aylesford spread the ball wide looking for space but their advance is stopped by Bear Williams and the ball is popped loose and collected by Club. Aylesford are then caught on the back foot as the Club to move the ball at pace, Fintan Jennings finds Johnny Ravenscroft before releasing Oscar Benns on the wing. He slips two tackles before being brought to ground but with Simpson in support and a strong ruck, Club recycle the ball out left. A lengthy pass to Jameson Morrison unfortunately can’t find his hands and it’s an Aylesford scrum following the knock-on. Trying to find their own momentum, Aylesford shift the ball to the wings but are stopped in their tracks as Marnham sends the player into touch. Club ball, Simpson drives forward and offloads to Jennings who break the defence but a second wave of Aylesford players take him to ground. Oliver Gowing picks and goes, refusing to allow the Aylesford defence to stop Clubs momentum, before finding Gregor O’Sullivan who continues the clubs march forward. Aylesford unfortunately slip offside and the play is called back. Club go quickly and Jenning’s makes a darting run before offloading to Morrison who bundles over the line for the first try of the day.

The kick off from Aylesford goes into touch. With the ball in hand Club surge forward once more but Ravenscroft is met by a wall of red and blue. The balls out and O’Sullian finds Jennings, Jennings to Morrison who finds Dexter Bloomer running at pace, with great movement from the club the ball finds Morrison’s hands once more before being forced into touch. Aylesford have the ball and dart up field but a strong tackle from Simpson knocks the ball loose. O’Sullivan collects and the club push forward on the counter and a maul see’s Aylesford forced backwards before Gowing finds Lorcan Reilly who dives over the line for the clubs second.

Aylesford restart, kicking deep into Blackheath territory. It’s collected well by Rafe Heath who leads Clubs charge forward. A great pass finds Simpson, but a solid tackle from Aylesford defence forces a knock-on and a scrum to Aylesford. Undeterred, club apply a wave of pressure to the oncoming attack forcing a knock-on of their own. Advantage club and Gowing sweeps into to collect the loose ball taking a step inside drawing in players he offloads to an open Benns who’s got room to run in-front of him. Benns hits the gas and secure the Clubs third. 

Club receive once more as they drive down the left hand side of the pitch, a strong ruck from the club and the balls back in Gowing hands as the backs use the full width of the pitch as they gallop upfield. Ravenscroft is met by a strong Aylesford defensive line. Phase after phase Club push on with both forwards and backs taking every opportunity to drive upfield. With Club continuing to hold their shape, a flurry of timely offloads see the ball move from left to right once more and into the hands of Benns who takes a step and over the line for the clubs fourth and his second.

The ball is kicked off deep back into Club territory and they charge up field after it found the hands of Jennings before finding O’Sullivan who powers into Aylesford’s defensive line. The Club boys are using every inch of the pitch they continue to move upfield. Jennings makes another glancing run inside before offloading to Ravenscroft who takes a step proving some space and a well timed ball for Benns as he steams up the wing. Slipping a high tackle and tempted rip before bundling over the line for his third within four minutes.

A short kick off from Aylesford finds the hands of O’Sullivan before offloading to Simpson but the ball has gone forward and it’s an Aylesford scrum. Club come out on top and the ball is driven up field with yet more fluid passing but some strong tackles from Aylesford stop the attack ten or so yards short of the try line. After a heavily contested ruck, the ball finds Blackheath hands and it’s moved at pace right to left. A high looping pass from Simpson finds the safe hands of Bloomer and he charges down the left wing to secure the clubs sixth. 

Aylesford receive the kick off which is taken well and offload at pace. They charge forwards, but are stopped by Ravenscroft and Club come out on top in the ruck. Again, Club grind their way up field but Aylesford’s heads have not dropped and their defence continues to hold the surging Club. Going blow for blow Club can’t penetrate the defence just five metres short of the try line. The fresh legs of Marionas Kaminska and Max Odin-Peftibay continue to drive the club forward inch by inch until the ball finds the hands and swift feet of James De Villiers who thunders over the line.

That last hard fought drive took its toll and club kick at the restart. Good hands from Aylesford after a tricky bounce and it’s their turn to test Clubs grit. They plow forward along the wing. Club stand strong in the tackle, but Aylesford are getting the upper hand in the ruck in the later stages of the half. Aylesford Bulls are gaining momentum and moving the ball well as each Club tackle is met with a timely offload. Aylesford release their speedster on the wing, he’s met with a key tackle by Bear Williams but the shift in momentum continues as Aylesford push on phase after phase. Aylesford crash over the line and Club are unable to hold it up. Try Aylesford Bulls.

Club elect to receive in an effort to regain momentum, it’s taken well by Bloomer who releases Marnham with a strong run through centre field. Some uncharacteristically poor rucking after the tackle sees turnover ball. A quick tap and go from Aylesford and they make headway upfield but Ravenscroft makes the stop. Club win the ball in the ruck but another penalty see’s the ball back in Aylesford hands. They move quickly upfield, moving the ball well in the faces of a tired Club who tackles are starting to fall short. It’s Aylesford who have the final word of the first half as they put their second on the board.

Club to kick off for the second half and the balls taken well by Aylesford, but their advance is met by a sea of tackles from a revitalised Club after the break. The momentum Aylesford  found late in the first half isn’t wavering as they continued to charge upfield and well into Club territory. O’Sullivan and Ravenscroft combine and put the brakes on the Aylesford charge just short of the try line. Odin-Peftibay makes a fantastic rip before heading upfield connecting with O’Sullivan to give the club some breathing room. The ball finds Morrison who kicks it up field and out of danger.

After rally of drives from both sides, the ball is back in Clubs hands and Kaminska makes a fantastic run. The Club boys are finding their feet once more with well worked passes straight off the training ground. Odin-Peftibay powers into Aylesford’s defensive line and the club edge closer and closer into their half. Woodside and Morrison move at pace down the left wing, opening channels for one another. Woodside is eventually stopped but without hesitation, Morrison sees the opportunity for a pick and go, powering through, eventually getting over the line for the clubs eighth. 

Aylesford kick straight into the arms of Ravenscroft, who fires up field, side stepping one tackle but into the arms of another. Club go again, pounding what at times feels like a kevlar defensive line of the Bulls. Club stick to the game plan and move the ball well with each player marching on into Aylesford territory but a Club knock-on see’s the ball back in Aylesford hands for a scrum. Club apply the pressure as soon as the ball is out, forcing a loose ball. Aylesford initially retain possession, but a steal from Simpson and the Club forwards thunder forward, with O’Sullivan being held up three metres out. Then it’s Marnham’s turn to charge Aylesford’s defence before offloading to Simpson to put number nine on the board for the club. 

Club receive once more, and they again push upfield exchanging tackles with this tough Aylesford defence. With both teams strong in the ruck, Aylesford (as they have done the entire game) continue to push Club back whenever possible. Club continue to move the ball well and, in effort to find space, Woodside drives down the wing before playing the ball back inside. Ted Keohane heads for the other wing with a string of passes stretching Aylesford’s defence, but they continue to hold firm and the ball is turned over. The quick thinking of Heath, collecting the loose ball and over the line for the try.

Club’s next try came on the counter attack from a heavy Aylesford drive. Marnham makes an incredible rip as Aylesford pound forward before making a precision offload to Jennings. Jennings releases Woodside on the wing who takes the tackle but continues to drive forward, taking the Aylesford defence with him. Once he’s eventually brought to ground, Jennings who was following the play, picks and goes before off loading to Gowing in support and over he goes. Try Club. 

Club is set to receive but the loose ball sees Aylesford regain possession after the ruck. They continue to apply pressure and manage to find a hole in Clubs tired defence before heading over the line for a quick score. 

Not to be outdone, Bloomer received the ball well from the kick off. Without hesitation he makes a piercing run into Aylesford’s half, carving a hole and running the entire half of the pitch with Aylesford in pursuit and an entourage of club players, he’s over the line for the try without being touched.

Aylesford are quick to take the kick at the restart, trying to find Club sleeping but are met with strong defensive play. Club come away with the ball and Simpson leads the charge before passing to Rafi Verrillo slipping tackles but after a strong tackle by Aylesford, it’s turned over and Aylesford are back driving upfield. Bloomer manages to stop the advance just shy of the try line but Aylesford pick and go for the try. 

Another quick restart from Aylesford and its collected by Benns on the wing. Side stepping tackles club take this charge upfield before being stopped at the halfway line. Simpson with the ‘dummy and run’ from the ruck is fending off Aylesford’s defence, but is eventually brought down. Gowing, seeing Jennings in space with room to run, offloads and Jennings receives the ball, making a beeline for the far corner. Woodside and Verrillo are in support but he doesn’t need it and puts number 13 on the board for the Club.

Aylesford kick off for the final time which finds Austin Thilagarajah but unfortunately it’s a knock-on, Aylesford scrum. Great movement from Aylesford spreads the ball well and they’re driving upfield towards a worn Club defence. Aylesford are able to break the final tackles of the game and secure one final try. 

A great performance by both teams who continued to apply pressure until the very end.

Final score Club 65-25 Aylesford Bulls. 

The U12s have just a week to regroup before they face the Folkestone Spitfires away next Sunday, 4th February in their next league match.