Long Buckby 12 v 19 Ampthill
We had an icy and cold jump up the M1 to Long Buckby, for our EM Cup game. A few slippery moments on the way and some dense fog meant we were lucky not to have a repeat of Coach Holland’s icy Mercedes pirouette of a few seasons ago.
The pitch was in surprisingly good condition given the temperature, with the exception of a lack of any lines being visible.
Long Bucky are known to be a good side, indeed their payers make up the core of the Northampton Alliance County squad that drew with the Bedfordshire squad only a few weeks ago.
On that basis there were a few questions about whether we could beat them – nothing like a good positive mental attitude – and this was nothing like a positive mental attitude!
We had a really good start to the match with good passing through the hands and good aggression at the rucks, better than we have seen all season and following a confident lineout win just outside our 22, we kicked over the top into space for Liam to run onto the ball and score under the posts.
It was nothing less than we deserved and Alex slotted the conversion to lead 0-7.
Despite some more solid play, we got caught napping and our drift defence failed to spread out quickly enough which allowed Long Bucky’s Liam equivalent to score out wide on the right. They missed the conversion and the score stayed at 5-7 into half time.
As you all know, I don’t often single out individuals as this is all about the team but there were a couple of pieces of play in the second half that are worthy of recognition.
The first took place as Ben put in a great tackle on one of the LB big centres. Although he didn’t get him to ground, the technique and power Ben’s leg drive pushed the LB player backwards and that was clearly not what he expected. It happened a 2nd time a bit later and to show the power of such committed play, there wasn’t a third with the same LB player stopping and getting rid of the ball to avoid the same thing when faced with Ben again.
It was from this first big tackle that the forwards worked really well together earning us a penalty. A good decision to use the ball quickly put Liam away again and he was able to score again in a decent position to allow Alex to convert once more 5-14.
This was a great game between 2 fairly evenly matched teams and it wasn’t long before a few missed tackles allowed LB to score out wide right, they converted with a great kick 12-14.
Next the second great bit of play worthy of special mention, this time from Lui, a superb tackle, release and jackal wasn’t appreciated by the referee (no other comments about the official from me). It was a carbon copy of the ground work that Neil Back showed us when he came down last year, it was that good!
We then had some more sustained pressure in their half and a nice inside pass to Liam, taking the ball at full pace showed how simple things can be and he was able to score. This time out wide left and despite a good strike of the ball from Alex, the ball fell just short.
The boys really kept their heads for a pleasing 12-19 win.
As always, the good thing is that there is plenty to work on, all of the players need to be able to tackle confidently time after time and so that is something to work on.
Onwards to the semi-final, which I understand means that the boys will be playing for some silverware this season, in either plate or cup matches depending on the next game.
Sadly, the return from injury of both Harry and Jack didn’t go as planned, Jack went off after a few minutes with a groin strain and Harry had a trip to Milton Keynes A+E immediately after the match where he found out he had broken his collarbone. Unfortunately that probably means the end of Harry’s season.
Finally from me, Greg took a great picture of the boys which really shows some of our great play . . . . no honestly, it does.