U16 vs Wellingborough OGs 34 – 33

Sunday saw the visit of Wellingborough Old Grammarians U16s to London Road for a blockbuster of a game which would see two evenly matched sides going at each other with passionate, high quality rugby for 70 minutes. OG’S are the core of a Rushden U15 side from last season who were promoted from our division and beat us comfortably in last year’s league game. From inside the first 10 minutes it was clear this was going to be an exciting game with OG’s scoring first on 5 minutes and Park equalising through Josh Lawson just 3 minutes later. Park had to learn to adapt quickly as OG’s utilised their strong pack and in particular their big lock forward to keep putting pressure on us and driving us backwards, not helped by an unusual unwillingness from us to go low in the tackle on the big guys. OG’s were again next to score with a converted try but once again we struck straight back with a converted try of our own through Sam Tenny (KT with the conversion). Park managed to go in at half time up 12-17 up thanks to a try from Robbie Wilkin, who having moved down to Luton from Northamptonshire in the summer scored against his old club mates.
The half time team talk revolved around giving away fewer penalties, utilising our back line and avoiding an arm wrestle with a stronger pack. This worked initially as KT poked the ball through the defensive line for Louis Palmer to run on to and score, KT slotting the conversion. The 12 point lead stood for a further 15 minutes until a kick over top took a nice bounce, away from our wingers grasp, and into the hands of a flying Old Grammarian who scored under the posts. OG’s then briefly took a slim 2 point lead with another converted try almost straight after, though Eliyaz Noor responded in kind with a well taken try in the corner. The seesaw of a game now saw us 3 points up and we were looking to close out the game. However OG’s were not done yet, and scored another converted try to take a 4 point lead with just a couple of minutes left. From the kick off Park’s forwards set a good platform to launch what would probably be their last attack, and it was from that we saw our marauding No.8 Sam Tenny run 25 yards into the corner to put us back in front by 1 point. With only a few seconds left after the restart OG’s ran out of time for any response and Park secured the win 34-33.
It has to be said that in such a tight game that also had League points on the line both teams were well disciplined, with only a couple of minor flash points which were quickly snuffed out. The result itself could clearly have gone either way, but it is a testament to the character of the boys, and the bonds that have been created on tour, that they came back right at the very end to steal the victory. We look forward to a return fixture in March when hopefully we will get an equally compelling game.

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