With the home game having been called off due to frozen pitches, Trafford’s pitches happily stood at a balmier altitude and allowed a squad of our finest to pitch up for a cold foggy mornings rugby. In order to keep as many players running around as possible, we agreed with Trafford to play 15-a-side and the pitch was widened accordingly. 2x 20 minute halves and with that play commenced.
Trafford were napping from the off and we took swift advantage. Some power play from the forwards saw Jethro steamroller through the middle, and having been brought down just short, James was in a great supporting position to gather the offload and register an early try 1-0.
From the restart we chased the ball down quickly and immediately resumed the pressure on their pack. Jonty was doing sterling work turning the ball over and with Sam B delivering the ball out to the three quarters, a lovely interplay between Alfie and Jake created some space. The ball offloaded to Finn who showed great upper body strength to break 3 tackles and cross the line to make it 2-0.
We then enacted one of our best ever team based tries. From the near touchline, Isaac and Jethro dug the ball out of a maul. The ball flew down the line, each pass crossing the gain line handsomely. As the ball reached the far touchline it was held briefly before Jonty and Max engineered a quick recycle via Sam B. Back down the line it came, sidesteps from the Johnson brothers and Noah continued the march downfield, to Isaac, to Jethro and a final pass back out to Adam who made no mistake to cross the line for 3-0.
Trafford looked a little stunned, and from the restart a handling error from them saw Max R fling himself on the ball. Hari G and James quickly drove over to protect the ball. Isaac dug the ball out passing to a grateful Mike who powered over to score 4-0. As halftime approached we continued to apply relentless pressure, Trafford unable to clear their line. Casey was cutting off any chance of a break round the outside and as a maul turned into a ruck, the ball popped out of the mangle of players on the Trafford side. As the ball rolled away backwards over the Trafford try line, Jake was quickest to react and hared round the side of the players to dive on the ball and register a wonderful opportunistic try to take us into the interval 5-0 ahead.
A different look Trafford side emerged in the 2nd half, with their Jethro equivalent (a large lad named Josh) driving the ball into our half. For about 10-15 minutes there was an battle of attrition in the midfield as play went one way then the other. Will had substituted on for Adam, and was doing well to disrupt clean ball and make it hard for their players to gain any momentum. Time and again tackles went in, but they were creeping up the body and allowing the opposition power lads to finally break the line. Eventually the defensive wall failed and they crossed the line to claw back a point 5-1.
The squad re-focused and the rhythm and understanding of the first half returned. The tireless work from the forwards allowed us to regain momentum, both Maxes, Finn and Jonty having great success in ripping possession of the ball back regularly. With the three quarters line holding their positions well, Trafford found themselves exposed in the middle and a trademark Hari G power pummel saw him cross for a well deserved try, 6-1.
The clock was ticking down, Sam B was controlling delivery of the ball well and when Isaac and Jethro rucked over the ball, the Johnsons and Max R dragged the Trafford backs out of position, Alfie taking a well delivered pass and running over the line to get his own name on the score-sheet and finish the game 7-1.
All the boys played with enormous flair and gusto, and Trafford were exceptional hosts. It was nice to have a game of competitive rugby after so many cancellations – next week the tests away to Burnley and at home to Fylde will bring fresh challenges so time to enjoy the day, and build on the many positives.