Bristol Bears U14s Nando's Rugby Festival Cup
By Katie James
After the success of the London Irish Festival last weekend, Topsham U14s were keen to take full advantage of the opportunity to enter the Bristol Bears U14 Festival Cup and practice many of the areas we had learnt from the previous weekend. The festival
The festival had no cap on squad numbers, so Topsham were able to include all squad members that were available to travel and play and this resulted in an excellent squad atmosphere and day out! The weather was superb and all of Topsham's matches were played on a state of the art 3G pitch, with 10 players per team and 20 minute matches. Being a festival there was no overall winner, but a prize draw was held, with two teams being nominated, based on sportsmanship votes, to play during the half time interval of Bristol Bears v Saracens, at Ashton Gate.
Topsham were on fire in our first game against Chew Valley RFC and took command of the game from the kick off, ending up eventual winners by 35-0. Our rucking was superb and inter-play and off-loading out of the tackle were equally impressive. Most impressive of all however, was our rush defence and speed of recycling. Try scorers were Hugo (1), Will O (1), Theo (1), Will S (2), Henry (2). A great start!
We had experience of Minchinhampton RFC when they visited Topsham on tour during the U13s season. From the outset it was evident that they were keen to avenge their earlier defeat and with a much changed team, Topsham were in for a real battle. The oppositions' intensity at the breakdown, meant that we were cleared out on too many occasions and a lot of the game was spent defending. Our tackling was also arms-length at times and eventually the inevitable cracks appeared and we conceded four tries during the game. Despite the pressure, Topsham scored three tries in response, with Will S (2) and Hugo (1) and the game ended a close affair at 15-20.
Old Bristolians RFC were up next and the coaches again mixed up the side, to ensure all players had as much game time as possible. A similar story to the previous game, the opposition were physical and direct, but also had flair in their backline and were keen to stretch our defence with some fine interplay. Topsham's defence was again solid, but we just couldn't always contain some physical, hard running players, who managed to score three tries during the game. Topsham scored through Harrison (2), who carved up the defence with two well executed runs. Final score 10-15.
Clifton RFC were a very capable side, with some impressive players, both in the backs and upfront and Topsham had to be on form throughout, as the lead changed hands several times. Topsham fielded an almost identical starting X, that comfortably won our first game, but Clifton were more than a match and cancelled out our threats on numerous occasions. This was an excellent, highly physical contest, with a large degree of skill being demonstrated by both sides and our substitutes performed very well, when entering the contest at halftime. Topsham ended up losing the game 15-20, with tries from Hugo (1), Harrison (1) and Will S (1).
Our last game of the day, saw another starting X take the field and although many were playing in different positions, this game was played in excellent spirit and there were some fine passages of play. Although the opposition were not as strong as the previous team, Topsham fought hard to secure possession and then execute and as a result, we clinically finished the game 45-0. Tries from Freddie (1), Harrison (1), Hugo (2), Sam Reay (1), Sam Reuben (1), Will S (2) and Tom P (1).
Another fantastic experience for the boys, against a set of difficult and capable opposition. We continue to grow in belief and ability as a squad and the past two weekends have been about pushing boundaries and expectations. This approach has helped raise our standards and above all teach players how to deal in a positive manner, with both success and defeat. The boys demonstrated a huge amount of commitment throughout the past two weeks and as coaches we can ask no more - win or lose. Also a massive thanks to all parents for your continued support.
Finally the biggest life lesson of all - nothing in life is free, especially chicken and always make sure you read the small print!!! ??Well done all, onwards and upwards!