The U16’s were pleased to welcome Old Dartfordians to Well Hall for a group game in the Kent Cup.
Unlike recent days, we were greeted with outstanding conditions: a sunny day, no wind and the No.1 pitch at Well Hall was in excellent shape: everything was set up for a good days rugby and so it was to be. The U16’s have not had the opportunity to play as a team recently, supporting as they have the U17’s, and the boys looked happy to be playing as a team in defence of their Kent title. From the kick off they were in to the expansive style of play the team is renowned for, spreading the ball from touchline to touchline, all the players looking comfortable with the ball in hand and passing to players in space. A score within the first minute from our effervescent prop set the tone of the first half (it was so quick that our faithfully video recorder of the game didn’t have even time to press the record button before we had scored!).
Try was followed by try as the dominant Club team ripped apart the Darts defence time and time again. Tries were scored from all parts of the pitch: fine interlinking movements producing some wonderful tries but we were also we were treated to some exquisite, precise cross field kicks for our wingers to score in the corners. The only negatives from a first half, where we turned round 41-7 up, was our inability to kick our conversions; from seven tries we were only able to kick 3; a knock to the knee which took our flying winger out of the game and likewise a heavy tackle and bang to the head which meant the withdrawal of our fly half for precautionary reasons. We subsequently lost our full back in the second half to a calf injury so it was a costly day for us in terms of injuries.
These injuries and the use of the entire substitute bench to ensure the entire match day 22 got a half, meant that we were less cohesive as a team in the second period. With some players in unfamiliar positions it was perhaps not surprising that we were not able to reprise the first half. This, together with a determined, resilient defensive performance from Darts, who despite the score never let their heads go down and continued to tackle and compete at the rucks meant an altogether closer second half. We continued to try and play with the width afforded by the main pitch at Well Hall and were able to score another four tries (but only one conversion: it really wasn’t our day from the kicking tee despite a number of boys having a go) while Darts were able to add a score of their own, the match ending 58-12.
We now face London Irish in a friendly match this week. This will be a stern test for the boys given the strength of London Irish and the injuries the squad has incurred in recent weeks. Alongside those in this match, we have a number of long term injuries and we wish all the players a speedy recovery. However we know that there is a depth to this squad and those players coming into the team will rise to the occasion. Come on the Club!