A Great Italian Touring Side
By Katie James
It was a special day at Topsham Rugby Club last Sunday with a great Italian Touring side playing our U14 s and U 13 s teams and the U16s playing a Devon Cup Semi Final after us.
The U14s game had a Cup game feel to it, with both teams playing some really good rugby. The Italians played the better rugby across the whole match and ultimately prevailed and therefore it was an excellent experience from which we have an unusual opportunity to learn more and improve and tune some aspects of our game for the matches we face in the rest of the season.
The Italians started better than us and ran in 4 tries in the first 10 minutes. Even though they had a limited warm up time, arriving a bit late, their boys turned up mentally switched on and ready to play. The first third of the game was Valsugana's with their quick hands, direct running and rush defence being used to full effect. Topsham soon adapted and the game became much more even. The Topsham play was fully committed and we were able to run through several passages of possession but Valsuganas defence remained resolute, coming up quickly to meet our runners. Sam did manage to score an excellent try when we were able to distribute the ball accurately for a passage of play after about 25 mins. William S also grabbed a try.
The Italians continued to show us how to move the ball swiftly and accurately across the field down the back line but our defence was now moving up and keeping the Italians in check. Throughout the game the Italians mixed in a clever kicking game making sure the ball landed on grass testing both Zac and Freddie throughout. Both dealt with that well and Freddie on 2 occasions did return the ball with interest using great footwork to find gaps in a very good Valsugana kick chasing defence.
In the last 2 thirds of the game the Topsham forwards were achieving a great deal of dominance with Theo and Henry to the fore. We ran the ball several times but the Italians were able to remain resolute for large passages of play and we weren’t able to match their fast passing and offloading game . Valsugana moved the ball across the field very quickly and accurately into space as well as running some great straight lines to cut across the grain on several occasions, which led to a further try for the Italians after about 40 minutes. Their game had more variation and made it more difficult to defend as the ball was constantly moved quickly around the field.
Towards the end of the game the Italian fullback scored a spectacular individual try from his own 22 against the run of play when we had been camped in their half for some time.
The Topsham coaches had noted Jake had had an excellent game and the Valsugana coaches had identified him as well and awarded him their Man of the Match after the game. Jake had his best game this season working tirelessly in the forwards, winning rucks, carrying the ball and getting out into the wide channels for every moment he had on the pitch. We nominated the Valsugana scrum half who distributed the ball really well and controlled the game for them.
We are invited to play an away fixture next season going to Padova! They are one of the best junior clubs in Italy and their boys train 4 times a week so they are a great squad to challenge us and bring the best out of our team.