u16s: Tigers 32-5 Marple
Sunday 26th February 2017
The last under 16s match of February was arranged at short notice and, whilst the squad were lacking some key players due to half term, we were pleased to welcome the Marple team and Tigers’ president, Ian Wragg, who joined the parents on the chilly touchline.
As it was a home game played at Dore Moor, many of the squad were particularly pleased to go out in their Tigers strip.
The weather was cold with a consistent strong wind from the south: rather than play two halves, the game was played in three 20 minute sessions. Tigers won the toss and Marple kicked off into the headwind.
Within minutes, Morgan Lewis had run an opening try in for Tigers. The conversion was missed.
The restart was followed by a frantic period of play: a Tigers knock-on at their own 22; the scrum stolen by Tigers; another fumble at the Marple 22 allowing the visitors to counter attack; a maul formed at halfway line – again turned over by the home players; the subsequent counter fizzling out at the Marple 5m touchline with the Tigers' attacking line out coming down for the visitors. Marple were, however, unable to clear their lines and, shortly afterwards, Saul Hinchcliffe playing at eight, broke from the back of a 5m scrum and grounded the second Tigers try. Tigers converted to bring the score to 12-0.
In a huge headwind, the Marple restart failed to make ten metres. An efficient Tigers scrum delivered the ball to Jake who ran a terrific line that took him all the way to the Marple line, where an excellent tackle caused him to spill the ball. In the 5 metre scrum which followed, Saul was again able to snatch the ball and take it over the line in what may be becoming his trademark manoeuvre. What looked like an accurate attempt at a conversion was again foiled by the wind and the ball bounced from the posts.
After the restart, following a penalty for Tigers and a brief attack, Marple regained the ball and came back with an excellent period of phase-based play. Patient and efficient recycling of the ball brought a well-deserved try from Arya. The conversion was missed.
At the end of the frenetic first phase, the score was 17-5 to Tigers.
From the restart, excellent pressure from Tigers drove Marple straight into touch. From the line out, Marple gained a penalty. Determined play from Marple came to nothing and a handling error allowed Tigers to drive for the try line. Marple won the ball back inches from the line and, from the clearance kinck, the wind carried the ball almost the entire length of the pitch. The ensuing chase and loose play resulted in a Marple scrum at the Tigers 5 metre line. Tigers came away with possession and the following scrappy play brought them to a Marple scrum just inside the visitors' half. The tussles went both ways for the remainder of the session. Although Tigers were able to resist the opposition pressure and the stiff headwind, neither team were able to find an edge. At the end of the session, the score was unchanged at 17-5.
Marple won the toss for the final phase and remained with the winds at their backs but they could not capitalise. From the restart, the visitors were unable to keep the Tigers out of their half. The pressure told as Tom Portius crossed the line for Tigers. With the try unconverted the score stood at 22-5. From the restart, Tigers brought the ball back to the visitors’ 5 metre line. Although Marple regained the ball, the clearance kick was charged down and grounded by new Tiger, Robert. Despite being directly in front of the posts, the wind again wrought havoc and the conversion was lost as the ball hit the posts and fell short: 27-5.
Tigers were soon back in the Marple 22. A penalty was given. The Tigers scrum half, Ultan Norris, quickly tapped, ran and grounded the ball. For reasons which are unclear to this entirely impartial reporter, this attempt was disallowed. The penalty was reset and Saul was able to run in his hat trick. The conversion was again denied by the gale.
A short attack from the visitors came to nothing and the game ended at 32-5 to Tigers.
All in all, it was an excellent performance from the entire Tigers squad and Marple were very unlucky to visit on the day when the home team played with the best organised, most skilled form of the season so far.
Special credit must go to the Tigers’ coach, Andy Roberts, who has done so much to shape this proficient and cheerful squad. Hats off to the visitors, whose heads never went down. Many thanks to players and parents for making their way over the Pennines to play what must have been a difficult game – they are welcome any time.
For his general excellent play, Jake was awarded man of the match.
Simon Norris, 27th Feb 2017.