Monday 2 December
On Monday 2 December, Eltham College welcomed St. Olave’s for their final fixture of the season. The U13Bs did not wait long before taking the lead through a well-executed try by Jack Savage. Tries from Charlie, Dunming, Jarvis, Josh, Ed and Wilf followed, as the team played their most expansive and clinical rugby of the season. Despite conceding a score due to a momentary lapse in defensive concentration, Eltham showed little mercy in the second half, where they amassed a score that would not be incongruous in a cricket match: 85-5.
Superlative tries and performances were ubiquitous, but one player stood above all others: Ed Castle. His influence on the team’s attacking game was inimitable: carrying the ball in both hands; running illusive lines; and demonstrating footballing guile and vision that many senior players would envy.
As the final match report of the season, the team must be commended for their spirit and relentless work ethic, which has been patent each week. The entire team and coach are indebted to the intelligent and courageous leadership of Bleddyn and Oscar. This band of brothers has the capability to go very far.
Final score: 85-5 win
Wednesday 4 December
For the final time this season, the 1st XV took to the field intending to make previous wrongs right. The disappointing loss to Skinners in the previous week only acted as further incentive to finish on a win. For one of the first times this season, Eltham scored early points through a well-worked backs move. However, the team did not start as they had wanted, as they refused to spread the ball to the widths and instead played a slow direct game, which came as an early Christmas present to St. Olave’s. The combination of several wasted opportunities and errors in defence led to Olave’s scoring two tries and a penalty, meaning that the half time score was 17-7 to the opposition.
In the second half, the ball game changed completely. Eltham dominated the majority of the half and spent a lot of time camped in their 22. This came through good decision making, fast hands and using the width to manipulate the defence. Eltham began to utilise their danger men out wide and score some notable tries from the likes of Conrad, Charlie and Sam Rushton, closing out the game with a decent point difference.
The thing that won Wednesday’s game was a team effort, as we saw a range of skills across the team, getting an insight into the potential of some of the Year 11s. A great way to end the 15s season and see out the Year 13s.
Final score: 41-17 win
Friday 6 December
U12A team wrapped up a fantastic season with a 10-5 win against St. Olave’s on Friday afternoon. As for most of this term, the U12A team were ferocious and fearless in defence, forcing St. Olaves to spill the ball, allowing Luke Mather to run the length of the pitch and score with pretty much Eltham’s first touch. Eltham continued to force Olave’s back in the second half with impressive tackling from Daanish Ashiq and Scott Parsons before Mike Etebe added another try to the delight of the rest of the team.
Final score: 10-5 win
The U12B team finished the season with a superb 45-5 win over St. Olave’s. Matthew opened the scoring in the first minute as he pounced on a mistake made by Olave’s from Eltham’s kick-off. A strong run by Darius doubled Eltham’s lead before St. Olave’s came back into the game and scored after some sustained pressure. Captain, George J, responded and from then on it was all Eltham as Arthur, Bertie and Cyrus scored before half time. Joshua scored a brilliant individual try just after the re-start, and both Darius and Matthew added their second tries just before the end of the match. An excellent victory to finish the season.
Final score: 45-5 win
Saturday 7 December
Earlier this season, St. Olave’s were highlighted as a “must win” game for Eltham, however the U14A team had to remember that form follows function, and so our first job was to perform to the best of our ability. After putting St. Olave’s under considerable pressure, Eltham failed to convert pressure into points – foregoing two or three potential try-scoring opportunities. Eltham soon went 5-0 down after failing to be efficient in contact, which allowed St. Olave’s to bundle through the middle. Early into the second half, Eltham kicked into gear and responded with two tries from Matthew Chick. With the score at 10-5 and Will S having to leave the field due to injury, the team pulled together to see out the win when Zeka E scored.
This year, the team were constantly reminded of the following three things:
- We are one squad who play in two teams, not two teams who merely train together. This has meant strong competition for places and a genuine emergence of cohesion and positive spirit spanning the year group.
- The game is built from mistakes. They are not made deliberately. Minimise ours, cause them in your opposition. Force their skill.
- Form follows function. Performance is the cake. The result is the icing.
Though the team have not always achieved the results they would have liked; they have developed as individuals and as a squad of players. In light of this, it is only fitting for the final match report for the U14 2019/20 to end with a quote from Steven Hansen (ex-Head Coach of the All Blacks) who gave the following words after losing to England in the Rugby World Cup earlier this year.
“So, the game has moved on a lot from its traditions but at the end of the day it is only a game. It means a lot, and that’s not to put down what it means, but it is only a game. What’s more important is the people that come out of it and the characters that come out of it and the friendships you make. The learnings you get as a person, this sport can teach you a lot.”
Final score: 15-12 win
The U14Bs ended the season playing the style of rugby that we have been accustomed to seeing over the last few months, demonstrating brilliant vision, teamwork and cooperation. The second Eltham try was one to be remembered; showing superb game management the team thought a couple of phases ahead, spanning the ball wide right and then back left, which put Matthew D over in the left corner having disrupted Olave’s defence through speedy lateral movement of the ball. Rucking was fierce, and commitment was shown throughout. Especially impressive was the decision making about when to keep the ball tight and when to spread wide. Aayan P and Rafa K displayed some brilliant running and go-forward, earning lots of hard yards. Max D was his usual busy self, timing passes to perfection and covering every part of the pitch. Unfortunately, the opposition had a 6’5 mastodon who scored with every touch of the ball, and there was little the U14Bs could do about that.
The U15Bs went into the final game of the season, against St. Olave’s, with a steely determination to finish on a high. It was a crisp but bright and dry morning, perfect for our expansive style of running rugby and Eltham started with a bang. The first 20 minutes were some of the best rugby the team had played this season. Phase upon phase were strung together, with powerful rucking, accurate passing and hard running. Harry and Uriel controlled things from the halves, backed up by powerful running from Antay and graceful outside breaks from Reuben. Eltham quickly raced into a three-try lead. For 10 minutes either side of half time, Eltham seemed to decide we had the game sewn up, and through a combination of bad luck and poor execution of passing, found themselves dragged back level. Having swapped Harry and Reuben into the As at half time for a couple of well deserved cameo appearances, Miles and Tobi appeared to help. Giving some direction, assisted by the power play of Alex S and the never say die attitude of Blue, we fought to impose ourselves once more. Our dominance was reasserted by some great attacking running by Tim and communication from Charlie T that could have been heard in Central London. When Miles was recalled to the As, and Ollie E took his place, we had another injection of energy and started to take the game away from the opposition. A final score of 34-28 to Eltham was an excellent way to round off the season.
A huge thanks from Mr Merrett for all the efforts the boys have put in this term, with a special vote of thanks to James Millar, who has led the side by example, never shirking away from a tackle and putting his all into training as well as matches. Well done boys.
Final score: 34-28 win