Ampthill 40 v Oundle 15
It was a chilly but bright day for our home match yesterday, played on pitch one in front of the clubhouse.
The plan is for this league to be for our mixed A-B squad and the initial plan for today was to give some of those players who haven’t had much game time this season a chance to increase their pitch time and show everyone what they can do.
The start was fine and suggested a high scoring match after some simple handling resulted in Lui scoring to the left of the posts. Alex converted 7-0.
Then the wheels seemed to fall off.
Missed tackles galore and quite frankly feeble rucking made us look a few years behind where we should be. In fact after the game Coach Gibbs (who had been with the under 10s today) talked about tackling high, with grabby wafty hands, poor rucking and a general lack of commitment. Today he was watching the U10s but he could have been watching us.
Oundle held their own in the scrum and the only positive over last game was in the line out, even then we failed to show teamwork. A great example of this was when Ali caught a nice ball above his head, but it was completely undone when he had no support whatsoever, this allowed Oundle to score a simple try in the corner. They failed to convert 7-5.
Such was my own frustration with our lack of commitment that one of the highlights of my day today was when Pierce realised that the sub suits have pockets – a revelation! I think it made his day as well.
Things carried on as they had done before Pierce’s life-changing discovery and Oundle played a tap and go from a penalty which gave us the chance to try to tackle again, lots of times, bit without making any meaningful contact and so they scored, nothing less than they deserved but didn’t convert, 7-10.
We then plodded around a bit, until a nice Jackal from Ross and a tidy line out allowed Lui to break through to score out wide. Alex struck a really nice kick on the stroke of half time to end the torture 14-10.
A series of Alex Ferguson Hairdryer-esque chats took place at half time about the lack of effort, lack of doing the simple things etc etc.
The start of the 2nd half was better, we were more up in Oundle’s face and competed better at the breakdowns. We worked our way down the pitch and crossed the try line, but couldn’t ground the ball so we got an attacking scrum on the Oundle 5 meter line. A solid push and a pick and go from Jacob at number 8 allowed him to muscle over. He did well to finish but in reality it was only a 10-20% chance to finish, out wide there were Ampthill players galore and very few Oundle defenders. The play that would have guaranteed the score was to shift the ball. You might think it harsh to criticise a scorer, but this is much in the same vein as Pierce’s score last week, a pretty good individual try in the end but the ideal team play was to do something different. It is these sorts of decisions that the players need to start getting right as against stronger opposition, we will struggle.
Fynn missed the conversion 19-10.
The Oundle kick off was caught by Liam who showed a typical burst of pace and power to destroy the Oundle defensive line and score under the posts. Fynn converted 26-10.
Lui then completed his hat-trick following a kick tap and go and seeing the opposition defence leave him a lovely gap to run through, again under the posts, Fynn converted 33-10.
If we were then in danger of looking like we knew what we were doing we had a mothers meeting between the half-backs after a penalty, a strange decision to fake a kick to touch and pass inside resulted in a knock-on and opposition possession, it wasn’t great and showed that lack of quick, simple decisions often lead to bad outcomes.
In this case the ultimate end result was Oundle moving up the pitch winning a penalty and then scoring. They failed to convert and the score was now 33-15.
Josh then broke through with a silky run, but got tackled just short of the line. Oundle’s possession wasn’t really challenged and this allowed them to get back up to our end of the pitch.
The final play of the match saw some decent hands and Liam was able to finish under the posts, Fynn converted.
So, the final score Ampthill 40, Oundle 15. If the match had been decided by rucks won and commitment to tackling, then to score would probably have been very one sided, in Oundle’s favour.
Lucky for us we have some players who can score lots of tries when we get the chance, but against the stronger teams we will be facing over the next few weeks, we will have to work harder to get those chances. A solid defence MUST underpin everything we do.
I know for me this was a very disappointing display, the score flattered us. The majority of the boys have been playing for such a long time now and they just didn’t do the basics well. Sadly there seem to a group of players who either don’t want to tackle or can’t tackle and this is something we coaches need to address. It isn’t fair that 4 or 5 boys do all the work, everyone who wants to play needs to take responsibility for the defensive work.
I’m sorry if you feel that this is a harsh report. As ever, I call it how I see it and try to give a balanced representation of events. I know those with their own views will air them and rightly so.
Finally, it was nice to see some of our players back from injury, Sam TG, Henry and Ross all back in the team.