After last Thursday’s outstanding team performance in beating a very strong Aysgarth team from Yorkshire, the 1stXV took on Dollar Academy on what was a mild but foggy afternoon at the foot of the Ochil Hills. Our home fixture with them back in September was a fantastic game of rugby which we won, but it was hugely competitive game of rugby and this Dollar team is right at the top of the schools we play in Scotland, with perhaps only Sedbergh having been stronger this season. So certainly another tough challenge, but as they have shown throughout the term, this group of boys continue to work hard as a team, set themselves very high standards which they have no intention of allowing to slip as we come in to the final two games of the season with just Merchiston to come next Wednesday.
As we expected, Dollar came flying out of the traps and showed what a quality side they were with some outstanding off loading and they kept hold of the ball really well which tested our defence; however, the hard work we have done in the last few sessions paid off and they were unable to break through thanks to some excellent scrambling defence and then securing turnover ball at the breakdown. We got on the score sheet first thanks to some excellent work by the forwards once again, and the quick ruck ball allowed Jack to go through the gap and score a super first try of the match. From the restart though, we were caught napping, slipped off a couple of tackles which was disappointing which allowed Dollar straight back in the game; getting up fast on the opposition and not allowing them the space to run is what we have done so well over the past few weeks.
After that, we then played some of our best rugby of the season, scoring four unanswered tries, all of them really well worked with the ball moving at pace out in to the wide channels – Oliver’s try in the corner was one of the best we have scored this season – and our ability to keep the ball, dominate the breakdown meant we were able to exploit gaps which eventually appeared in the Dollar defence. Seb and Joshua were quite outstanding today and the Dollar boys found it hard to compete in the tackle area which allowed us to play front foot rugby, and Rory and Max got the three quarters running so well in attack. There was some outstanding rugby from the whole team, and seeing Jack, the 2ndXV skipper, dive over for a short range try was definitely the moment of the match for me, and seeing the rest of the team’s reaction to his try. Everyone supportive of each other and working so hard as a team together.
And so we have reached a fitting finale next week with our final game against Merchiston at home, at the end of what has been a wonderful term of rugby for this group of boys. They have grown and developed over the course of the season, adding so much more to their game as the weeks have gone by: today, we played much wider, we kicked well when Dollar were up quickly in defence and we ran with real power and pace, making good decisions all over the park. It was very good to watch, seeing the boys take responsibility and show real leadership.
It should be a wonderful game of rugby next Wednesday between two good teams. I cannot wait!
One more challenge. I think we will be ready.