This cohort of young rugby players can be regarded in terms of the different stages of the team’s development: the band of ‘Originals’ who have been there through thick and thin and have known times when wins were hard to come by and bragging rights at school on Monday morning were an unusual occurrence, the ‘Game Changers’ who upped the ante in that all important period when Mini Rugby players had to play Junior Rugby and the team were competitive and aggregate skill levels went up and then, more recently, a new wave of players adding verve and pace and a can do attitude. In this game between two famous old clubs that have played against each other at different levels for almost 150 years one team were good honest boys who were augmented by 3 or 4 that were a step above and who had a hand in the crucial aspects of the team’s successes and another team who worked their socks off for each other and trusted and appreciated their fellow team mates. London Scottish U14 have developed from the former to the latter model and this tight win was therefore as satisfying as it was exhilarating and draining.
The quality in Quins side was evident from the kick off when they fielded a rebound and immediately applied pressure that eventually led to the fly half stepping through the midfield to score near the posts. The conversion was missed.
Amongst the ‘new wave’ were four debutants; Bryn, Louis, Amar S and Ethan who all made positive impressions. Bryn was particularly noticeable in his strong ball carrying which got the team onto the front foot and it was one of these drives into the heart of the Quins defence, followed up by contributions from Edan and Nicholas that resulted in Nikolaj carving through to score. He then converted his own try making the score 5-7 to LSFC.
Strong ball carrying was a theme of the first half and Robbie, Alfie, and Matteo all came close before Robbie burnt off the cover to go over for an unconverted try. Edan and Owen were conspicuous in the lose and breakdowns and Finlay T was often there to straighten the attacks and thus provide some space out wide. One of ‘The Originals’, Bailey, who is growing in confidence by the game demonstrated his side stepping ability to get his team out of trouble on more than one occasion and another Original, Alfie, had his best game for some time carrying often and to great effect in the first half, which ended 5-12.
After the break Quins had the better of the battle for territory and edged possession although the Scots dominated the scrums. The Scots had momentum early on and when another strong carry by Bryn followed by another by Finlay T freed Ben down the right hand side. The scrum half was sharing duties with Louis and at this time and he attempted to thread a pass through to Robbie but the ball was slapped down and backwards by the defender, it then popped up to Robbie who dotted it down. 17-5 to Scottish.
Captain Joey enjoyed his first game back after injury but despite his efforts and those of Conor to keep some shape on the game it all became frenetic and unstructured. However, they kept their cool – somewhat better than those of us on the touchline – and just worked harder. Nevertheless eventually and after much pressure and a few penalties they scored a well deserved try, which was converted. 12-17.
Quins were really pushing for a winning score and with their star players to the fore were constantly threatening the try line but even with Owen and Nikolaj off the field the team pulled together and held out for a well deserved win. Every one of the 17 was utterly exhausted at the final whistle and had given their all. Looking at them at the end of the game where they had been tested and not found wanting it was not a case of Minis-to-Juniors but boys becoming men.
Owen, who displayed perpetual propulsion equal to that of a cat with a slice of buttered toast strapped to its back being lobbed off the back of a sofa, was man of the match.