Topsham U14s vs Ivybridge
With a strong squad Topsham arrived expecting a tough match against a well motivated and well drilled opposition, which is what we got.
Preparation was short and focused. This squad is developing not only in terms of ability but also in terms of attitude; the approach of the players to training and match preparation is a credit to them and is paying dividends in terms of performance and results.
Ivybridge were clearly expecting a hard game and were up for the challenge. Although the playing conditions were far from ideal - rain, drizzle.., rather like the glorious summers I enjoyed in Wales, the artificial surface suited Topsham perfectly. The game began at a high tempo with no quarter given by either side. Tackling was hard and committed from both teams. As both sides settled the game saw numerous turnovers, eventually Topsham managed to establish some control and applying the "slow ball, fast ball" game linked together some excellent phases of play. This drew opposition players into the midfield and finally created a well worked overlap on the left which saw Toby Collins released from the halfway line to score a well finished try under the posts, conversion by Freddie Bridger and a lead was established that was never lost. The remainder of the first half saw numerous trys scored by Harrison Fox, Will Saltmarsh and Toby Collins. Half time arrived with a 6 try advantage. The second half saw 6 changes in the Topsham side. This was a very different half and was about Topsham's defence. Into wind and rain with no points conceded and one more try scored by Zeb Winzer; in some ways as big an achievement as the domination of the first half - the squad demonstrating depth and cohesion, with all players working for each other.
Defence. Not only was the commitment of the players unquestionable but technique and organisation made it impenitrable. The forward support at the breakdown was excellent showing not only good mobility but also a sound reading of the game. The motivation and drive in defence was massive on numerous occasions Ivybridge were camped on our line and at no time was the resolve of our defence found lacking; the closer they got the harder we worked.
Up front. At the breakdown although we were counter rucked there were also numerous occasions when we counter rucked Ivybridge. What seems to be letting us down is body position and not looking for the ball on the ground. That said the forwards, against a strong pack, in the set pieces provided a good, stable platform for the backs to operate from.
The forward runners took the ball extremely well, however, there was a tendency for them to get isolated; our supporting players need to get closer to our runners in order to provide direct support; against better sides we may end up being losing the ball.
Handling. On a day when conditions were far from ideal, all things considered, our handling was very good. All players were passing quickly and accurately, although we could make our lives a little easier by standing a little deeper.
Final Score 47 - 0
Harrison 3 trys
Toby 1 try
Zeb Winzer - 1
Freddie Bridger - 6
Overall this was a hard fought and far more evenly contested game than the score board would suggest; Ivybridge were a highly motivated and capable side. For Topsham this was a truly excellent performance of which the whole squad should be proud; our attack was potent and our defence unbeaten - an excellent morning's work - well done!
Training on Sunday; let's pick up where we left off.