Rugby Report – 16 November

1st XV

Eltham College played New Hall School in an away fixture this Saturday, in a game where we wanted to build on a good win over Ravenswood the week earlier. Eltham started off slow, allowing New Hall to get into the game. Due to a missed tackle, poor handling and ball retention we went two tries down early in the game. But due to some good running for Eltham College’s winger, Ola-David, and a good kick for ten from James Bush, the play led to a well deserved try for Charlie Watkins to get Eltham back into the game. In the second half, Eltham played all the rugby in New Hall’s half, but we failed to make our superiority count and let chances slip. Some good defence out wide by Ola-David and good tackling for Charlie Watkins kept Eltham in the hunt until New Hall scored another try all but killing the game. A try set up by good forward play from Luke Kemp and Joe Abu lead to another try for Charlie Watkins, but it was a little too late for Eltham, as frantic play gifted New Hall another try at the death. Leading to a final score of 26-12 to New Hall, in a game in which Eltham never really got into.

Final score: 26-12 loss

U16A

Saturday saw the visit of New Hall, who also came with a depleted squad due to injuries. After a few rearranged positional changes and B squad players coming in, we were keen to continue the winning streak.

A strong start from the team, all fitting in nicely and producing some good rugby. It wasn’t long before we started to put points on the board. We went into the half time three tries up. The boys were coasting a little and it gave New Hall the opportunity to have a strong period. Our defence was put under lots of pressure for a 15-minute period but held out fantastically; a part of the U16’s game that has improved the most. After holding out we put a few phases together and scored another try to finish them off. The game was played in a great spirit and the team from New Hall acquitted themselves well.

U15A

Right from the first whistle it was apparent that the U15A team would be in for a battle against a physically imposing New Hall side. The opening salvos saw Eltham defending resolutely with some big hits coming in from Nathan and Isiah. Eventually we managed to get our hands on the ball and looked to make inroads of our own. Some good phase play looked promising before an unforced error let us down. The first two scores from New Hall were opportunistic – an interception and a quickly taken penalty from five metres out. Showing the resolve that has been developing this season, this group of young men went up the other end for a well-worked score of our own. A sign of the respect that New Hall were showing Eltham came when they decided to kick for the posts with a couple of first half penalties. The second half began as competitively as the first ended, although the powerful running of the New Hall outside backs started to show and after a couple of missed tackles they extended their lead further. The game would have had an exciting finish had Eltham been able to take advantage of a sustained period of pressure, however it was not to be. The final score certainly did not do justice to the level of competition shown through the match.

U15B

The U15B team were well matched against their New Hall counterparts and will feel unlucky to have not come away with anything from the weekend. A cagey first half saw few clear cut chances. On a couple of occasions the Eltham back line caught a glimpse of the New Hall line, however a couple of handling errors meant that we went in at half time level at 0-0. After weathering the brunt of the early second half New Hall storm, it was frustrating to concede. But a 5-0 deficit was manageable. The next 15 minutes saw us make all the running, some clever kicks and excellent line speed, pushing New Hall back deep into their own half. We were camped on their try line for the last six or seven minutes but couldn’t find a way through. A kick to the corner and a driving mall saw the tension for the spectators rise through the roof. However, it wasn’t meant to be. We fell just short of the line and a knock on meant New Hall were able to clear to touch. A 5-0 loss was a tough one to take after a very good performance with the boys left to rue their missed opportunities.

Final score: 5-0 loss

U14A

This week the U14A team built on the defensive organisation established in previous mid-week sessions. Our focus on “the other side of the ball” proved critical in our excellent performance against Ravenswood last week and was the catalyst for this week’s match against New Hall, where we laid down our best performance of the season thus far.

The U14A team played with an inspirational commitment from the first whistle to the last. The game began with Eltham pinning New Hall down in their own half of the pitch and this was how it stayed for the entire half of the game. New Hall sustained incredible amounts of pressure, forcing them to make mistakes,  which we failed to capitalise on early in the game. Thankfully we were able to convert this pressure into points when we took advantage of an overlap, which saw Orin Vitalis score in the corner a few minutes before half time. With the score at only 5-0, we still had a lot of work to do.

The second half saw us continue to wear the opponents down by attrition. By being aggressive in both attack and defence, New Hall found it incredibly difficult to get into the game, especially after we extended the game by two tries when Matthew Chick exploited the fruits of our labour and dotted over from close range. To their credit, New Hall capitalised on a chink in our defence managing to score round the edge to make the score 15-5. Some truly sublime interplay between Matthew Chick and Ben Adamson saw Matthew Chick dot over for his third score, which put the game out of reach with the short time left.

The whole team deserve praise for their; performance, togetherness, tenacity, strength of character and determination. Considering most of the season has focused in how, when and why we compete for the ball it is excellent to see the knowledge transferring to practice. On 17 November 2018 the then U13A team lost 26-5 to New Hall. Today, 16 November 2019, the now U14A team has beaten New Hall 20-5.

Our challenge is to keep our spirit going into the last few games of the season. Focus on performance first, results will follow. Form follows function.

Final score: 20-5 win

U14B

The stars aligned this week against a New Hall side who came up against an Eltham team that showcased their best rugby so far. Even before the kick-off the “E’s” were raring to go, with the aim of “attacking their defence”. Showing dominance in the tight, the backs were able to put together some fantastic phases of play, unselfishly passing the ball out wide. The first try, by Nathan D, was a demonstration of what can be achieved through catching the ball at pace. Not to be outdone, Dylan H replicated Nathan’s try – except he caught the offload mid-air whilst diving over the line in the manner of superman – and with the speed he had created, almost slid between the trees into the hockey pitch beyond. Champagne corks were flying as the ball was fizzed through numerous pairs of hands and directions, bamboozling the opposition, with most of the team handling the ball in the third try. Tackling was superb, with Rafa K and Oles C leading the defence, which created lots of pressure and territory. Rucking was fierce yet selective, allowing more forwards to be available for the next phase of play. Great leadership was shown by Boris J, bossing both forwards and backs alike. Everyone in the team had their best game so far, showing the level of performance the team is capable of.

U13A

The U13A team roared back to winning ways in a pulsating game with New Hall. Both sides were impeccable in their sportsmanship and played the game in a ferocious but respectful manner.

New Hall would take an early lead, but from there on in Eltham would lead the game for the rest of the fixture. Special mention must go to Kola who ran in six superb tries’ – a phenomenal performance.

The Eltham College forwards were slow to get into the game, but once they did, Eltham dominated the break down with Austin leading the way. Things got nervy towards the end and it took a try saving tackle from Harry H to keep Eltham comfortably in the lead. A final score of 40-25 was reflective of a magnificent game and plenty of high-class play.

Final score: 40-25

U13B

Eltham were subject to some early pressure from New Hall, who had most of the possession and field position in the opening exchanges. This was, however, broken by a try from Jarvis in the corner, where he used some deft footwork to beat two defenders. After this score, the metaphorical floodgates opened. Four tries were scored in the first half; New Hall had no answer to the unrelenting physicality shown by the home side, at the breakdown and in attack.

In the second half, Eltham added four more tries – including one scored from a cross-field kick. Bleddyn deservedly ended his barren run by bagging a hat-trick of tries in the match.

While one might be beguiled by the score line to praise the team’s attacking play, in a game where eight tries were scored, it was the defensive organisation and execution which I must extol.

Picking two standout performances was an arduous task, as many boys had superlative games. Two players, though, encapsulated the aspects of the game from which I derived most pride – physicality and courage. First, I must mention Wilf’s indefatigable work at the breakdown, ubiquitous presence around the pitch, and aggression with ball in hand. He was immense. Second, Ollie Saville showed great leadership and courage in his making numerous brave tackles and efficaciously marshalling the forwards so we could execute the game plan. His impact on the game demands unfettered laudation.

Final score 40-0

U12A

U12A team picked up a fantastic win against New Hall on Saturday morning. An outstanding attacking display was optimised by tries from George MacCallum and Jermaine Essien. Man of the match Michael Etebe also added three tries to Eltham’s tally.

Edward Taylor, Olly Buck and Sam Holloway were all unavailable for selection for the 12A/B matches on Saturday as they were representing Greenwich in the London Youth Games cross country.

U12B

The U12B team played their best rugby of the season as they beat New Hall 45-0 on Saturday morning. With plenty of new players getting an opportunity, Eltham showed determination in defence during the first five minutes as George Mc led from the front with a string of tackles. Eventually the ball was turned over and excellent handling sent Josh down the left wing to open the scoring. Eltham dominated the rest of the first half as Bertie scored a hat-trick with some strong running and Hector also finished a good team move. It was more of the same in the second half as Reece scored twice, Hector got his second try of the match and captain Darius dived over just before the final whistle.

Overall an excellent team performance with Bertie, Tom K, Josh, Elliot, Ryan and William all impressing in their first B team match.

Final score: 45-0 win