Wolves A Finish as Runners-UP in 3 Team Mini-League by Tom Barrett. B Team report by Mike Haynes.
Two energy sapping games proved a real test for The Wolves
The Wolves were involved in two back-to-back 30 minute games against Old Alleynians and Old Whitgiftians:
Old Alleynians 4 Old Whitgifians 2
In an entertaining opener OW’s looked the better side for much of the game and although OA’s were typically clinical in attack the 4-2 winning margin flattered them slightly with OW’s close to drawing level at the death. Highlights from OA’s included one of their playmakers picking up the ball in defence and running right across the length of the (almost full-size) pitch following several dancing sidesteps down the left for the score of the day. OW could and perhaps should have had more points on the board and this was typified late on when they had a three man overlap which ended with one of their players casually placing the ball down for a “try” on the wrong line (!) which would have tied up the game at 3-3. Moments later an efficient OA’s team ensured OW’s were punished for this error and scored late on to seal their 4-2 victory.
Westcombe Park 4 Old Whitgiftians 2
After a long wait The Wolves finally got in on the action but got off to a sluggish start going behind early as they missed a string of tackles down their defensive left. Adem soon got The Wolves back into the game powering in from 20 yards out with OW’s making similar defensive errors as they failed to stop him before he built up a head of steam. In the second half The Wolves responded well to their half-time team talk with Haydon pouncing on a stray OW’s pass to snap up a bouncing ball and give The Wolves a 2-1 lead. Towards the end of the game OW’s tired with Jamie expertly running in a brace of tries from the fullback position down both the right and left flanks after poor kicks by OW’s. This was a strong end to the game from the Wolves with only one reply from OW’s who understandably looked jaded after two tough back-to-back games.
Westcombe Park Old Alleynians 5
In the first half of the decider it is fair to say that The Wolves were schooled in all departments by a slick OA’s team performance. In attack OA’s passed the ball at every opportunity creating space on the wings with The Wolves missing some key tackles as OA’s cruised to an early 2-0 lead. OA’s third try was impressive even for a Westcombe supporter as The Wolves couldn’t get out of their half despite a prolonged period of possession and some strong co-ordinated pressing by OA’s gained them turnover ball from which they turned defence into attack in an instant by relentlessly rucking then recycling and moving the ball well before scoring with ease. 4-0 down at half-time The Wolves could have no complaints as it was a fair reflection of the game with OA's brand of simple yet effective support-rugby showing what good teamwork can help achieve. In the second half OA’s continued to ramp up the pressure but The Wolves battled well with some strong tackling from Christopher and a couple of promising midfield breaks from Matthew although typically The Wolves were still playing as individuals which contrasted with Old A’s who worked together in well drilled lines both defensively and offensively. Old A’s scored the only try of the second half by creating yet another overlap but after an hour of continuous rugby The Wolves can be proud of restoring some second-half pride against a well-oiled outfit.
Well done The Wolves and apologies if I missed any key moments out
15/10/2017, 22:48:01: Mike Haynes: This was always going to be a good test for the squad, Old Whitgiftians and Old Alleynians being some of the stronger clubs in our county. The Westcombe Park B's had 4 players making their debut which was great to see, first game vs Old Whitgiftians.
The hosts started well and scored two quick tries using their powerful centre who made the most of some weak tackling but then Combe settled into their stride. Ryan and Max combined well at 9 and 10 and, with some particularly good rucking from Ewan, we started to put some phases together, our own powerful Thierryon scoring just before halftime.
The second half was much improved, Alfie and Dillon got the team going forward with some strong runs, Ralph also putting in a good shift on the wing, T again going over to make it 2-2. It was nip and tuck until 5 minutes from the end where lack of defensive line speed from Combe meant that Old Whits scored from a penalty, final result 3-2.
Next up was Old Alleynians who put on a very good display of handling, support, quick rucking and communication. Combe never really recovered from another slow start and learnt some tough but important lessons in the 30 minute match. All credit to the boys, they never gave up and kept competing to the end, Kit Denny's defense worth a special mention, making at least 4 try saving tackles on the left wing.
Plenty for the boys to work on but also a lot of positives. Thanks very much to all involved for an enjoyable day.