U16s: Tigers 12-32 Dronfield

Sunday 26th March 2017

Nothing lasts forever. Dronfield have one of the best juniors teams in the area and the lads had only squeaked one narrow win over them this season.

Neither Tupton nor Tigers players had trained this week and the squad was already depleted by illness, injury and mothers’ day – we could only just field the fifteen.

As our players drifted out into the bright spring sunshine, the visitors were engaged in sharp disciplined drills. Some of the muggles at the clubhouse began to mutter that the Tigers’ winning streak might be on the line.

Tigers won the toss and kicked off into the breeze, gathered the ball and quickly won a scrum and the subsequent penalty. Tapped, run but rapidly turned over by Dronfield. A rapid switching of possession, marked only by a poor Tigers line-out, finished with Dronfield stealing the ball from a maul and sending the ball far into the Tigers half, gallantly chased by Adam who fell onto the ball and kept it until support arrived. But Tigers were soon forced out. Dronfield lineout at the Tigers ten metre line was passed out efficiently and Dronfield scored in the right corner. 0-5 to the visitors.

No conversion but, within minutes, Dronfield had turned the ball over at the Tigers 22 and run the ball in under to the posts. A simple conversion made it 0-12 to Dronfield.

Better after the restart, Tigers gain a scrum in the Dronfield half, good pressure and the scrum collapses and Tigers gain the penalty. Tap and run but again turned over and a swift counter attack – defensive line out at the Tigers 5 metre line.

Disaster as the Tigers number eight came down with digestive disfunction and has to leave the pitch. Dronfield had to swap a substitution into the further depleted Tigers squad.

From the lineout, an efficient Dronfield attack was thwarted only by a knock on under the Tigers post. But from fair clearance, the efficient Dronfield backs ran another try in beneath the posts.

The Dronfield kicker, with a kick he probably couldn’t reproduce in a month of Sundays, struck the crossbar. 0-17.

A brief Tigers attack after the restart was stolen again by Dronfield, whose backs again showed their class and ran five more points past the home team. 0-22.

Again, the conversion was missed.

From the conversion Dronfield fumbled the ball forward but possession was quickly stolen back at the line out. A brief exchange of possession was followed by better play from Tigers, turning over a scrum and retaining possession. But still Dronfield pinned the home team in their own half. Finally, Tigers broke out of their half but lost the ball. From a Dronfield scrum in their own half, the visitors an long attack down the right wing. A knock on the Tigers 10 metre line only gained the Tigers a defensive lineout – efficiently taken and scored by the visitors.

The conversion struck the woodwork again. 0-27.

And suddenly, from nowhere, it was 0-32. The score which stood until half time.

Some team talk, the second half saw the slew of tries come to an end. Although Dronfield turned over the restart ball, Tigers swiftly won it back from the strong opposition pack and strung together an attack and found themselves mauling at the Dronfield line. Held-up and cleared well by the visitors. Penalty Tigers – kicked to the corner but an attempt at clever play misfired as the short ball was knocked forward at the line out. But still Tigers attacked, gaining a couple of penalties. Sadly a knock on gave Dronfield a scrum at their own 5 metre line and Tigers soon find themselves back in their own half.

Scrum from a Dronfield knock on and despite a massive push (this Dronfield pack is strong), Tigers somehow kept possession at roughly the halfway line – flattening the poor Tigers scrum half who limped off out of the game. Such good work seemed instantly undone as the visitors filched the ball again.

A home team penalty, an exchange of possession but Tigers are slowly building phases of play. Attacking hard up the right wing, bundled out at the Dronfield 5 metre line, a couple of penalties and Ted finally wrestles the ball over the try line. Held up? No, try awarded 5-32.

Converted 7-32.

Tigers never looked dominant but this was better. Dronfield knocked on at the restart and Tigers could attack again – an attack sadly squandered with a loose kick.

End to end play as the game drew to a close. But somehow, in the dying moments, Tigers stole back a lost ball and Jake was able to land  one last try. The last kick of the game went wide and the game ended 12-32.

At times it seemed one sided – but the last third of the game Tigers were back on top and back on form. Despite their depleted numbers, illness on pitch and a very good opposition, heads never went down and the squad were rewarded with late points.

Ted was awarded man of the match but plaudits must also go out to Morgan Lewis and Robert Watts for determined play throughout.

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