U16s took a trip over to Bletchley on Sunday morning with lower squad quota than we would usually expect. Due to various injuries, illnesses and unavailability just 18 of our 30 man squad travelled, some already carrying knocks. However those that went were not disheartened or overawed by a team who had beaten us comfortably in April to become divisional champions. The usual malaise of a slow start cost a couple of tries in the first ten minutes, a problem we as a squad and coaching team have to address, but as we have done previously we eventually woke up and hit back quickly. Another try from Bletchley increased their advantage again but then, suddenly and without warning, we went into our purple patch either side of half time. Just 19-12 down at half time we came out and hit back hard, moving to a 29-24 lead at one point. However, the injury bench started to pile up and without the ability to bring on fresh legs in the final quarter as Bletchley were able to do, fatigue started to show and our lead was overhauled. The referee had the final score as 38-31 to Bletchley, which of itself was a magnificent effort, however a countback of the tries we scored showed us as having scored 6 (Eliyaz, Mal, Sam, Romario, Louis & Luke) with 3 conversions (Kieran Taylor) to make it 38-36.
What is disappointing is that aside from the slow start, we gave Bletchley 2 points for free, when, with them clearly going to score in corner, we failed to continue the chase back and allowed them to walk in under the posts rather than having a much harder conversion effort from out wide. This is a symptom of a lack of concentration from the boys which also manifests itself when we concede a penalty and they turn their back on play to retreat the 10, and are then surprised when an alert scrum half taps and goes and comes running through them. Perhaps a narrow defeat will help to concentrate the mind in those areas and by coincidence (Bletchley was actually a team of combined MK and Bletchley players) we get our chance of redemption when MK visit us next Sunday and will bring essentially the same combined side.
Overall a very good and dedicated performance from the lads who showed fantastic heart and team spirit to come within a whisker of an excellent victory, though obviously still with areas to work on. Congratulations to Micheal who was on pitch captain and, as always, led from the front, and to Man of the Match Louis Palmer who made several bullocking runs to get us back on the front foot when under pressure.
As a side note I would like to congratulate Bletchley/MK on their deserved win, but more importantly on their willingness to work together in order to provide high quality rugby for both sets of boys. It is all too easy for teams to fall by the wayside when numbers start to drop but this kind of cooperation is exactly what is required in those circumstances.