Topsham U14s vs Torquay
By Katie James
Torquay arrived with a squad that had both strength and depth
Torquay arrived with a squad that had both strength and depth, sadly Topsham had only 13 players in total. However, what was lacking in numbers was made up for hugely in terms of talent, commitment and motivation.
We began with a split session of forwards working on rucking and lineout, backs on the drift and speed of realignment in both attack and defence.
Torquay kindly loaned us some forwards who to their credit all played well. At scrum half we blooded Tom Puddiphat who stepped up with a gutsy and tenacious performance
The match began with a Torquay receiving the kick off. For the first minute and a half they retained possession through multiple phases that showed them to be a well drilled and well directed side. Eventually, due to forced error through Topsham’s hugely committed defence, the ball changed hands and we had the chance to demonstrate our attacking capability. Good hands in the midfield, speed and direct running demonstrated a potent attack that required everything of Torquay’s defence to repel. In the loose our forwards were outstanding in terms of speed around the park (Isaac), tackling (George and Hamish F) and speed onto the ball (Henry and Noah). If one had to pick out an area of weakness it was rucking in the first half; there was no lack of dedication, what let us down was body position and physical firepower. Topsham had the lion’s share of territory in the first half, possession was 50/50. The considerable efforts of all the Topsham players saw a half time lead of 7 – 0 (try Harrison, conversion Ben). With the possession Topsham had we were exciting and inventive, the midfield (Ben, Zeb and Harrison) created numerous scoring opportunities which went begging as final passes went to ground. Considering the wet conditions this was hardly surprising. Whilst at full back the rock solid Freddie ensured anything kicked to us was returned with interest.
The second half was more evenly fought in terms of territory, however, against the run of play Torquay scored with 8 minutes to go. A spirited and immediate response from Topsham showed the team was very much up for the fight and to their credit were the dominant force to the end. In the dying minutes of the game a try was disallowed (speak to the referee) and shortly after Torquay were content to kick the ball out of play and settle for a draw. Perhaps an indication of the perceived threat. This was a tough match; eagerly contested by both sides.
Considering the number of players that turned up for Topsham this was a good result and a performance which in every sense did the squad proud. What was excellent to see, as a theme throughout the game, was the work the Topsham players did in defence in support of each other; a real team spirit.