1stXV 28 Aysgarth 0
It has ben a long two weeks, with 6 matches in 14 days which with one or two boys carrying knocks, has meant this group of boys have had to dig deep and show a huge amount of mental and physical fortitude. They have proved themselves to be a real team, leaders standing up to be counted, and taking games by the scruff of the neck and showing that steely inner determination which drags the rest of the team along with them. Today was no different, as we welcomed Aysgarth to Cargilfield for their annual visit, and having lost to them down on tour, the boys were ready to battle hard and look to take a rare scalp!
Having had 75% of the ball last week against Sedbergh, and yet unable to break through their outstanding defence, we made a couple of tactical changes this afternoon: Glen moved in to 13, Quin on to the wing and with the skipper back to full fitness, we were keep to get the ball faster in to the outside channels more often, rather than keeping it tight. We do keep possession so well, going through phase after phase, but turning that possession in to points was going to be key today, and with ten of the boys having played and won with the Saltires the day before, everyone was keen to get another win over an English opponent, which is always satisfying for the Scots, at whatever level!
I could not have been prouder this afternoon. When some could have complained of tiredness, instead, the group of boys drank deep from the well once more, and to ‘nil’ a side like Aysgarth takes some doing and just showed the resoluteness of our defence and that determination to make sure that the quality of our rugby brought the result it deserved. Right from the start, we dominated possession once again, but today the biggest difference was the organisation of our defence; the communication was excellent, we did not over commit to rucks that we lost, and our first up press and tackling was outstanding. In particular, we closed down their very fast Chinese boy who scored tries against us down south, but today after one huge hit by Luca, he had no space to run and we forced him in to mistakes. And so it went on. Aysgarth had some strong and effective ball carriers in the backs, but we closed them down so quickly and our defensive organisation was quite superb, so hats off to the whole team for what was an incredible shift.
In attack, Glen saw much more of the ball today which got us over the gain line out in the wider channels which made us a much more potent attacking force; it is something we shall continue to work on in the final two games of term, but Max kicked intelligently when Aysgarth were up fast and his all round game was back to its very best this afternoon – leading from the front both with and without the ball. Rory scored a superb try from the base of the ruck, again varying his play much more than last week when we all a bit predicatable, and Jack continued to show real cussedness, skill and hardness, putting his body on the line again and again and again – great to see after such an intense workload these past two weeks. Oli came back in to the side today, played really well at full back, and he fully deserved his MoM award from the Aysgarth coach; he covered their kicks and ran the ball back really effectively, so well done! As ever, it was another herculean effort from the forwards: we dominated the breakdown, listened to the referee and out rucked our opponents throughout the game: quick ball is the key and I was delighted with our ball carrying and the real aggression that we run with game after game. Top notch effort all round.
We go again……two more games remaining, and two big ones to finish! Away up at Dollar next week, then a mouth watering finale, at home, against our old friends Merchiston. This group of players have worked terrifically hard all season and shown themselves to be one of the very best Cargilfield XVs over the past 16 years; teamship, working hard for your mates and never once taking a backward step are qualities which will serve us well as we head in to the final stages of the season.
Keep going. Much to look forward to still!