Kingsbridge RFC U14s (7) v Topsham RFC U14s (14)
By Katie James
A small travelling squad overpower Kingsbridge
Through the previous age groups, from U7s to U14s, we have always had competitive games against Kingsbridge with the results virtually even. In some years Kingsbridge has been in the ascendency and in others Topsham has prevailed. As a result, we increasingly look forward to the Kingsbridge fixtures, both home and away. They have become an indicator to how our squad is progressing from one season to the next.
Conditions were perfect and from the kick off through until the final whistle the match was high-paced and physical. Kingsbridge started strongly and dominated territory for the first 10 minutes. Throughout this period the Topsham defence was solid. Committed tackling and and effective rush drift defence worked well to snaffle out Kingsbridge’s attack. A quick and aggressive defensive line tackled man and ball or pushed their strike runners across the pitch towards the touchline. Backs and forwards combined to compete for the ball in rucks and mauls and turned over possession on several occasions. Following one turnover Topsham quickly worked through 2-3 phases of play and with a defensive line on the back foot Harrison Fox finished with a determined run for the line to score his and Topsham’s first try. Ben Helewell kick an excellent conversion from out wide to take Topsham into a 7:0 half time lead.
The game was always finely balanced, but in the second half Topsham played more with the ball in hand and started to dominate the possession. Backs and forwards carrying the ball on short pop passes close to the break down or pick-ups from the base of the ruck made significant territorial gains through the Kingsbridge defence. Then at the appropriate time the ball was passed wide. After several good penetrating runs into the Kingsbridge defence from a number of players, Harrison Fox put in an excellent run to finish off a great team effort to score his and Topsham’s second try. Ben Helewell converted.
With two such capable attacking sides the game was won by the best defensive team. Topsham had the upper hand in defence. Good body position at the breakdown to secure several critical turnovers and committed tackling on many occasion rocked Kingsbridge backwards and forced errors. Unfortunately a slight lapse of concentration following a double penalty decision meant Topsham conceded a quickly taken tap penalty with ten minutes to go. With the conversion made Kingsbridge were within a converted try of Topsham. Topsham’s rock solid defence stood firm until the final whistle and secured a 14:7 victory.
With a combination of injuries and half-term absentees we travelled to Kingsbridge with a squad of just 17. With such a small number of players we had to make some adjustments to playing positions before and during the game. Most notable playing out of position were William Saltmarsh at No. 8, Hamish Fraser on the flank and Austin Crow at scrumhalf. All of whom adapted well.
It was a hard fought win and gives Topsham a positive indicator for this season.
Topsham’s point were scored as follows:
Tries: Harrison Fox 2
Conversions: Ben Helewell 1, Freddie Bridger 1