Taking full advantage of another friendly before the next league game, this was a chance to field a completely different set of players for Stockwood in the first half against Rushden & Higham. As outlined in previous match reports we have had an influx of new players and so these matches are essential in order to assess their strengths, weaknesses and best positions.
The first half, as expected, was a difficult one for Stockwood as it was the first time this set of players had ever shared the field at the same time. Rushden were fielding a squad of very athletic and strong players who clearly have a few seasons under their belt playing together as a team, and that showed.
Right from the kick off the opposing side took full advantage of their strength by storming through the middle of the defence without any real contest being made. This continued to be the story of the first half whilst the Stockwood boys found their way and figured out how to make the best of the situation they were in. All credit to the players who were on the sidelines, as their encouragement and advice throughout the half was great to see and hear.
William was the captain for todays match and got stuck straight in leading by example. Max, Joe Cooper, Zain and Mason worked incredibly hard with there defence against very strong opposition and on a number of occasions Stockwood did manage to force their way forward, notably with Arnold running strongly with ball in hand. The lack of game time together however meant that the first half ended with Rushden leading by 59 points with a number of fairly easy trys and well kicked conversions.
The second half saw significant changes made to the Stockwood side allowing the majority of the usual squad to take to the pitch. If Rushden thought that they were going to have an easy run in the second half they were very much mistaken. This was a much closer contest and even though Rushden went on to score several more trys these were far more hard fought for. Stockwood worked very hard in defence and managed to keep much of the game play around the half way line and on several occasions broke free, making determined runs towards the oppositions 22 only to be halted by the Rushden defence.
Friendlies are always a frustrating affair as all we want to see is our team win. However with league games being most important, I believe the coaches did a good job today of testing new players and also confirming for themselves what their strongest line up could be over the coming months. Each player should look at these games as a learning curve and all their efforts are well noted by the coaches and parents. There is only so much you can learn in training and the experience gained by playing these matches is invaluable.
Man Of The Match goes to Joe Cooper, with the coaches very impressed with his high work rate and brave tackling for only a three game novice.