Double Header

A good competitive game.

Despite the torrential rain that flooded the pitches at Old Northamptonians, we managed to get the game moved to Bedford. This was to be a pre-cursor to the Cup Match against ON’s scheduled for the following week and was a chance for both teams to see their opposition up close and personal.

Despite a sunny morning, the overnight frost had made areas of the pitch a bit hard, so the decision was made to start the game playing “touch rugby ” as opposed to full on tackling.

This proved to be easier said than done, as both teams found the instinct not to tackle in such a competitive game difficult and when Old Northamptonians made an early run against the Bedford pack and into the Bedford 22, Bedford seemed uncertain what to do. An early try and a conversion to ON’s and a bit of confusion on the faces of the Bedford boys.

ON’s seemed to sense that there was an opportunity to seize control of the game. Bedford, playing too narrow, left too much space along the wing, which ON’s capitalised on, passing the ball easily across the line to score in the corner.

Despite conceding these early tries, Bedford started to re-group and regain some shape. ON’s, under pressure to clear their lines, kicked long and Stanley made an excellent chase back to cover the ball. A knock on by ON’s just before the Bedford line and a scrum to Bedford which drove back the ON’s pack. The Bedford scrummaging is fast becoming one of their biggest assets.

The ball came out loose to Dan who’s kick cleared the danger from under the post to gain territory up field.
An unfortunate mis-handle and the ball was back in ON’s hands. ON’s attacked again but the Bedford defence, getting more confident and assured of themselves as the match goes on, hold up ON’s before the line.

Some great carries from Ash, secure Bedford more territory and another scrum. A great pick up and charge from Mattie takes Bedford up onto the ON’s 22 . Kick and chase but Bedford are impeded and yet another scrum to Bedford.

Quick ball out and Aiden drives for the line but is held up again. Bedford are camped out on the ON’s line but are unable to score : turnover ball.

ON’s use the quick ball and the speed of their passing along the line to expose the gaps in the Bedford defence. A great tackle by Dylan, as ON’s go for the line – held his oppositions shirt then wrapped his arms to prevent a certain try. Bedford can’t get into the ruck quick enough and ON’s pick up and score again just before half time. No conversion.

Half time.

Despite the score line, Bedford showed great character . We took time to settle into the tempo of the match, but as the half progressed, Bedford became more physical and as a result more competitive.

Line speed and being slow into the ruck were areas where Bedford suffered most and where ON’s capitalised.
ON’s started the second half with another quick try, using pace and quick ball to open up the defence. Again, Bedford were too narrow, getting sucked into defence in the middle of the field and leaving space out on the open-side.

This became ON’s game plan as they repeatedly pushed quick ball out along the line into open space. ON’s ability to use the ball quickly, passing along the line and capitalising on the space, were the most dangerous element of their play.

Despite the defeat, there is a lot that can be taken from the game. Bedford were committed in defence, played better when they matched the physicality of ON’s and had some excellent periods of play .

Some great character shown by the Bedford boys – Charlie with a great tackle, taking the ON’s flanker into touch. Luke, again carrying the ball into contact and making powerful runs down the line.

Our positional play, maintaining line formation and being quicker and more competitive at the breakdown are all areas for us to work on.
So we now play Old Northamptonians again next week, having learnt a lot about their style of play and having the luxury of being able to pre-plan our own game strategy…. should be an interesting Sunday .