1stXV beat Dollar Academy

1stXV beat Dollar Academy

An excellent team performance

1st XV beat Dollar Academy

Final score: 63-19

The first half of the season ended on a real high with a titanic game against Merchiston which we lost by a single try. It capped what had been a very impressive first half of term where we played some excellent rugby and it was wonderful to see all the hard work we have put in on the training field come to fruition as two skilful sides battled it out. Four wins and two narrow defeats to Merchiston was a good return, and we certainly laid some very solid foundations for what is always a very tough run in to the end of term when we welcome Sedbergh and Aysgarth to Cargilfield before playing them again down on tour along with St Peter’s York, before having another crack at Merchiston towards the end of term. Always a highlight of the year for the senior boys, and we are certainly in good shape as we begin this very tough series of games which come thick and fast.

Dollar are always one of our strongest games due to their large number of boys and their renowned rugby programme, so we knew that we would have to be at our best for the first game after half term, and probably two weeks of doing not a lot at home due to the torrential rain we have been having. That said, we trained well on Monday and Tuesday and we once again focused on our defensive systems, staying connected with each other and communicating and organising ourselves as a unit, something we really improved on before half term, despite only playing two competitive games. Against the likes of Sedbergh who we welcome on Friday, defending as a team, coming up together, talking to each other and making our first time tackles will be critical and today was a good chance to put things in place.

James M came back in to the team on the wing, but the rest of the team was unchanged from the Merchiston game, and playing down the slope first half, we were keen to win the breakdown which is out forte and then use the ball well……and this we certainly did. Right from the off, we kept possession for phase after phase after phase, clearing out at pace, dominating the breakdown and running some excellent lines with the ball in hand. Despite the wet conditions, we handled the ball really well, with our forwards picking some great lines off James, and he and Monty also combing well to put Rafa away in the wide channels. The forwards were outstanding today, it must be said: they won ruck after ruck, and I don’t think we got turned over once as we cleared out aggressively – we gave away hardly any penalties too, and keeping our discipline like this will be so important on Friday against Sedbergh.

I was pleased with the way we listened to the referee and only went in for the jackal when it was on, and we won countless turnovers through excellent jackalling and also some terrific counter rucking. All six forwards came off at the end having given everything and Harry (3), Jamie W (2) and Jamie P (1) all scored well taken tries from close range, running at pace and carrying the ball powerfully with excellent body positions. Dexter did not score but he ran some great lines to tidy up possession as well as putting in some ferocious hits, whilst Wilfred and Archie looked after the ball really well and I was delighted with our fitness and how we kept on going right to the end, even when we played the second half with two men down having rested James W and Rafa at the interval. You have set down a marker now as a forward pack and the same level of intensity will be needed against Sedbergh – I look forward to you rising to the challenge once again.

The backs coped amazingly well given the conditions: we ran really intelligent lines, keeping the ball narrow for a few phases before looking to go wide and there were remarkably few handling errors which was testament to your skill and concentration. Theo had a great game at scrum half, making really good decisions as to whether to snipe down the side of the rucks, pop to an oncoming forward or move the ball out to James who distributed the ball with real intelligence today. Monty had his best game of the season, like one or two others, and he dictated the game in many ways in the 2nd half when Rafa was withdrawn, dominating the breakdown with such a strong body position and talking a lot more to Theo, telling him where he wanted the ball; James M, Tristan and Senuka all made telling contributions with Tristan slotting in to fly half for the second half where he ran strongly and used the space well given the wet conditions, whilst James showed some real rugby nous with his inside ball to Rafa which put him away for a try. Of course, Rafa proved a big handful for the Dollar tacklers whilst he was on the pitch, but I was pleased that he did not go too far, and provided a target for the forwards to hit the breakdown hard yet again, and this will be crucial when we play the likes of Sedbergh who will defend much better than Dollar did today. But hats off to Dollar who never gave up and they scored three tries in the second half which were well deserved, even though the final score looked a little one sided at the end.

What pleased me most about today’s performance was how clinical we were with the ball, how we dominated the breakdown despite them having some big boys, and the intensity with which we played throughout the game. There was no let up, and to see Jamie P and Monty being so vocal during the 2nd half when we had to work much harder for our scores was so encouraging for what lies ahead. A real team effort and one that you should be very proud of.

We shall have to be at our best over the coming two weeks as we face five massive tests, two at home and three down in Yorkshire on tour. The bar has been set high by you all this afternoon, and I cannot wait to see us come face to face with our friends from Sedbergh on Friday. Win or lose, it is the performance that is the key and if we perform like we did today, then Mr Stephen and I will be two very happy coaches.

Very well played indeed, boys. It was a pleasure to watch you play this afternoon.

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