A Hard Fought Victory for the U16’s

Ongar U16’s 32:35 Stockwood U16’s
Match report by Robert Coupland

Due to poor weather conditions the U16’s came into this game with neither much training nor playing time.

The Park were away to an unknown opposition, Ongar RFC, which meant having to travel an hour to the match on a day we had already lost an hours sleep due to the clocks going forward!

The one thing in our favour was excellent playing conditions and the little matter of 19 boys with great team spirit proudly wearing their Stockwood tops! The match ball today was a bright green ball which matched the refs top as well as the playing surface. However, I am not going to discriminate about the colour of the ball but concentrate on the rugby.

Stockwood got an early penalty just inside the Ongar half which was kicked deep into touch within 5 metres of the opposition try line. It was so well struck by Kieran that it completely cleared the ground and had to be replaced by another ball, which to my dismay was another green one! However, Callum M. unlike myself was not phased by the colour of the ball and threw a short ball to the front of the line which was Caught by the Stockwood prop Mark S who passed it swiftly back to Callum who raced over to open the scoring to put Stockwood 5 points in the lead. Then to capitalise on his earlier great penalty kick to touch ‘Barry the Boot’ converted from the touch line with a sweet left footed strike straight between the uprights making the score 0:7 to the Park.

Unfortunately the rest of the first half was not going to go as well as the first ten minutes. Ongar until today were an unknown quantity as I mentioned earlier but it soon became apparent they were a good side. Ongar’s first try came after 11 minutes from a well worked move out wide to the wing, Carter Bowes managing to tackle his opposite number but unfortunately for Stockwood he was too close to the line to stop him scoring. Ongar failed to convert making the scores 5:7 in favour of Stockwood. The next 25 minutes were dominated by Ongar, the Stockwood backs had no time on the ball as the Ongar defence was fast up in their faces. They also utilised their big forwards especially their No.8 to attack the line, he had a great run down the flank destined to score until he was bustled out of play on the corner flag by Max C. They eventually converted their pressure into points scoring 3 more tries and one conversion taking the score to 22:7 to the home side.

This is where credit has to be given to the boys collective team spirit and self belief, not only were they not down trodden by conceding four tries in 20 minutes but they started to work out the opposition using their rugby brains.

Kieran, realising if the defence runs up quickly he can counter this by utilising the kick and he did exactly this putting an excellent kick over the top for Connor to chase nearly resulting in a try. Max C. had also worked out with Joe L. that if he ran at and committed the outside centre to the tackle it would either free Joe L. on the outside or allow him to run free, this worked really well when Joe L. staying a few paces behind his inside centre Max (enabling him to take the ball at pace) run on strongly to the pass before running straight and hard at the Ongar defence. Joe L was exceptionally well tackled which is a real credit to the opposition defence but unfortunately the opposition didn’t know why they call him the ‘Hulk’ Ladley. Well not at least until they made him angry by adding an extra insult to stopping him as they ruffled the Ginge’s hair and like the pitch, the referees top and the ball Joe turned green. Within seconds of this move the same two players combined with the now big green ginger man taking the ball twenty plus metres out and no one was going to stop him from scoring. Kieran adding the extra two points before the halftime whistle blew to make the score 22:14 in favour of Ongar.

Ongar started the second half strongly and as in previous reports and earlier on in this one you will be aware I do like a player doing try saving tackles and holding the ball carrier up over the line. Well I was in for a treat, Ongar played some great rugby – the ball flying along the backs, the centre receiving the ball short of the try line with a player outside him but rather than make the percentage pass he got white line fever and maybe on any other day he would have scored had it not been for the ‘Joey Green Giant’ doing the best try saving hold up tackle of the season – a real treat for any defence connoisseurs. The only negative was shortly afterwards Ongar scored taking the score to 27:14 in their favour.

The two hookers Callum M and Eoin realised that the big guys can go nowhere without their legs, Callum M never stopped tackling the whole game making a fantastic individual effort on top of his try. The captain, Dan L, also played a big part in turning the tide by raising the tempo with a couple of individual strong runs, the first of which was a strong thinking one from a quick penalty in his own half and the other as he confused the Ongar defence by spinning in the tackle to gain vital metres.

Unlike Ongar’s failed attempt earlier thwarted by Joe ‘Shrek’ Ladley, Max C didn’t get white line fever and passed it to the ever present still green man ‘Kermit’ Ladley to score a well deserved second. This was nonchalantly converted by the boot of Kieran who shortly after scored an opportunist try and converted again.
It was not just his great kicking from the tee but his field kicking and communication was excellent as well putting in a gigantic kick for Max C. to chase later resulting in a penalty try after Ansett was high tackled near the opposition line. The score was now 27: 35 to Stockwood.

Ongar, however were not going to throw the towel in and with a few minutes to go they went over to score, making the score 32:35 to Stockwood. In the last play of the game Stockwood were penalised for a high tackle ten metres in front of the post from their own line. Now it was not just Joe but all the Stockwood players simultaneously turned a sickly green! Ongar could go for a simple penalty kick to draw the game but as they say ‘fortune favours the brave’ and Ongar went for the five points driving towards Stockwoods line but not all sayings come true and Ongar knocked on and the final whistle blew. Stockwood winning 32:35 in a very well played, well contested match as well as a great spectacle for supporters of both sides.

The game highlighted the strong character of the team coming from far behind to win a cliff hanger in the end. They were also quick to learn from their mistakes/naivety and good moves didn’t happen by accident they happened by design. Good understanding and Communication.

Not one player didn’t manage to play to their potential and give 100%. I think what is also impressive is the opposition had 25 players which their coach rotated well and we had 19 and by the end 3 injured not able to go back on. But through resilience, strong character and self belief that comes from previous victories in the season we were not going to be denied.

Plenty of other great plays from others not mentioned such as :- Ansett’s tackles at full back, Will’s tackling of the big lads round the legs but I can go on and on because all the players deserve praise. Very well done.

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