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Match Report - U16s V Durham City 5/11/17

BARUFC U16’s, “A Team to Watch…..”


This comment appeared on several occasions across several social media platforms following BARUFC U-16’s performance against Durham City on Sunday 5th November at the West Mills playing fields. This is high praise indeed as the comments came from the opposition, Durham City, a team that the U-16’s in the past could never muster any credible opposition. This historical position was well and truly put to bed following the utterly fantastic performance the U-16’s delivered.

With a heavy atmosphere of intrepidation hanging over the spectators, but a quiet optimism from the coaches, the players ran out on to a cold, bright pitch to begin the biggest test of the season.

The weather, the cold, stinging wind had an immediate effect. With both teams suffering from cold hands several handling errors from both sides resulted in some scrappy, loose turn over ball play. However as both packs began to warm up the tussle really began. Straight from the start it was apparent that the line out and scrum techniques, height and weight were both equally matched. Line outs were won and lost equally due to both 3rd man jumpers competing at the tops of their game. Barker W., being lifted managed to spoil several Durham throw ins, but was thwarted several times by his opposite number. Front row of McGregor-Taylor, Wiffen J., and Barnes R., faced an equally tough front row, but held their own and often slowed Durham’s scrum down through driving hard and low.

The first twenty minutes the Bishop boys defending superbly, with several drives from Durham being held in their own 22m area, but being cleared confidently and without panic.  Grey J., seized on a loose ball and was able to break free, Barnes R., and Wiffen J., were on either shoulder and managed to carry the ball a further 20 m before being felled. Durham cleared their lines with a long kick that full back, Kitching caught excellently, which he was called on to do at least 3 times during the game.

The first try came after about 20 mins of intense play. Durham used their very effective 13, to drive a hole in Bishops defensive line. Kitching, last man produced a try saving tackle, but Durham arrived in support and were able to gather and with high numbers of players score the opening try that was not converted.

Bishop immediately responded following the kick off. Redfern L., collected the ball and wiggled and side-stepped around several players. Wiffen in support began his drive for the line but was held up. Skinner O., earning his place at second row, was dominant at the breakdown allowing Barnes to carry forward, who again was stopped on the line. Bishop were then pushed back all the way to their line before Barker and Grey led a defensive attack to prevent Durham scoring again. Bouncing back down the field, Bishop developed some strong pressure on the Durham defensive line causing them to slowly retreat. Through hard work and aggression Wiffen led the pack, supported by McGregor-Taylor, Hockworth R., Minns N., and Watson L., with a rolling maul from about 10 m out. Through several phases of forward mauling and rucking Wiffen was able to force himself over the line through a classic forwards driven try. Grey Converted to give Bishop a 7 – 5 lead.

Durham immediately responded from the kick off. With Redfern caught in a maul, and being levitated in the air, the ball was worked to Durham’s back line. Running from very deep, at speed, with total commitment, their number 13 again created an opening, that was well supported by their forwards who pushed over to give Durham a 14-7 lead after the try was converted.  Bishop didn’t loose their resolve. Showing great levels of resilience they strung together their own back line move involving Thrower B., Hurdley J., and Smith M., that forced a defensive error from Durham and with no penalty advantage coming presented an opportunity for Grey to add a further 3 points to Bishop’s total. After making a successful kick the half ended with Bishop trailing 14 – 10.

Durham started the second half with a stronger spirit. With a number of handling errors from Bishop, Durham were able to capitailse on these and gain ground. Skinner produced a second try saving tackle, but the pack were out-numbered and couldn’t prevent a second push over try from Durham, that was converted. Durham persisted with the high ball attack on the Bishop full back. Kitchen did not let the side down and secured successive high balls. From one of these an attack moved forward with Hurdley driving hard down the left hand side. Beating and knocking flat several players he was able to lay the ball off to Redfern who scored under the posts. Grey converted pulling the score back to within two points at 15 – 17 in Durham’s favor.

Bishops elation and subsequent going to sleep for 5 minutes allowed Durham to pick up on some dropped passes. Highlights from the remainder of the game included a text book tackle from Minns N., a Burtons Dummy wiggle from Thrower, a ripped ball from Wiffen and McGregor-Taylor forcing a turn over ball. However it was Durham who showed the greatest strength in depth and ran in two further tries to win the game 31 – 17.

Although Bishop did not win the game, the real highlight was the team performance. Although several individuals showed flair and style, this could not have been achieved without the support of the rest of the team and the replacements. The importance of training and drills was on display with the backs and forwards working as a combined unit. Bishop were able to match Durham in every department. Line out technique needs to be practiced to hone each move, scrums need to be kept tight and squeezed and backs need fast ball to be able to exploit gaps and demonstrate their running abilities. All these were on display. The only real difference was one key player from Durham, number 13, who deserves credit. Bishop need to take responsibility in committing to the tackle with strong running players such as these.

Mention has to go to all the supporting players, Rider E., Tobin F., Sidebottom H., Woodward J., Gallone J., Scorer M., Cant M., Sowerby P., without these guys providing the glue the team would be significantly worse off.

Wiffen and Redfern were made man of the matches. Coaches and parents, as well as the Durham players and coaches thanked and loudly applauded the players for a wonderful game of attacking, aggressive rugby.


Kevin Thrower 

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