Big wins for Rugby XVs against Colfe's
Saturday 19th November
Eltham College WON 36-15
A beautiful day, a large and excited crowd, a great game of rugby and a fantastic win over our local ‘rivals’ will all help to guarantee that all the boys who took the field on Saturday will never forget it, and for all the right reasons.
With four wins in a row before this one, the boys were all keen to maintain such a good run of form and ensure that those boys in the Upper 6th won their last match against Colfe’s. This meant that the build-up throughout the week went brilliantly and, with every player showing just how much he wanted to win and how much it would mean to do so, both training sessions were excellent. Come Saturday though it was obvious that the intensity that had been shown in training was nothing compared to the feeling in the changing rooms and during the warm-up, and an unmistakeable buzz surrounded the players.
The game itself started at a lightning pace and, as usually happens in that sort of situation, this meant that both teams were over-eager to make their mark on the game early but with both teams missing kicks at goal from penalties that highlighted this, the early tension could not be broken. However it soon was, as both teams got a break while James Walton received treatment that forced him off the field, a huge shame as he had been having a good season, but this gave Will Foster the chance to join the match and he went on to have a great game at No.8, especially considering he does not turn sixteen until the end of the school year! This halt in play seemed to refocus the Eltham players, and soon the pressure that had started to build on the Colfe’s back line had to give, and a telling break from Tunde Salau gave him the chance to release fellow winger Tolu Odusanya who powered over to put the home side 5-0 up.
Colfe’s did not sit back though and quickly closed the gap to two points following a penalty at the breakdown, something that both sides struggled to control throughout the game. However the score was only a brief respite for the away side, and Eltham were soon back in the opposition 22m with the half-back combination of Will Cray and Hamish Hamilton marshalling the forwards and backs respectively into an excellent attacking position. This patience and control was beginning to pay off as the Eltham pack started to exert some serious pressure in the scrum, with the front row of Charlie Murphy, Ollie Pimm and hooker Charlie Mottram stealing at least three against the head and forcing their pack backwards at every opportunity. Eventually this had to create a chance and, seeing as both centres were having such a big impact every time they carried the ball, it was only fitting that inside centre Adam Calderwood scored the try under the posts to give outside centre and captain Jack Robertson the easiest of kicks to stretch the lead to 12-3.
Quickly though a nine point lead became sixteen, as the Eltham players started to play with real confidence, and with the forwards again providing a fantastic platform the backs were able to show their speed out wide as full-back Charlie-Sid Speller burst through the line. Although his pass still gave Salau some work to do, he was able to finish brilliantly and squeeze over in the corner. Robertson added the two points with an excellent kick and things were looking good approaching half time. Regrettably though these games are never that simple and before the referee could signal for the interval Colfe’s had closed the gap to eleven as they went over in the corner for a relatively soft try, 19-8 to Eltham at half time.
We always knew that they would come back after the break and they did but, despite some unforced errors and mistakes at the rucks that led to penalties, they could not find a way to break down the fantastic Eltham defence as time and again the forwards repelled the driving maul and pick and go tactics. The determination showed by all the forwards, but particularly by senior players Marcus Grima, Ollie Pimm, Charlie Mottram and pack leader Dan Fox, was outstanding as they refused to allow the opposition any space to work. Unfortunately though the referee did not see it that way and Marcus was forced to spend ten minutes anxiously watching the game for over-zealous work at the breakdown.
The one man advantage does not always help a team overall, but it did help Colfe’s to close the gap to four points following a well-worked move put their winger over in the corner, and with the score now at 19-15 the crowd started to really get behind both teams. Whether it was the home crowd, the will to win or the sight and sound of Andy Scripture urging them on, the Eltham boys responded brilliantly and after forcing a penalty and kicking to the corner the scene was set for the power of second rows Andy O’Malley and Ralph Weir to combine brilliantly with the rest of the pack and drive their way over the line with Ralph on hand to claim the five points. Robertson converted from the touchline again, and quickly followed that with a long range penalty and the score was now 29-15 with five minutes to go. Unfortunately during this period Will Cray had to come off but Oscar Thurley did a great job once he replaced him, which cannot have been easy with the game still in the balance.
As the clock ran down the Eltham defence stayed strong, and with less than a minute to play were even back in the Colfe’s 22m attacking, and with Hamilton stepping through three tackles the ball was recycled back to prop Charlie Murphy on a late run behind Robertson’s decoy and he crashed over under the posts to score our fifth try. Jack converted, the referee blew his whistle and the Eltham College 1st XV had beaten Colfe’s 36-15.
Eltham College WON 39-15
It is a sign of our high expectations that we can be disappointed with this game. Perhaps not surprising as it was a local derby, the first half was a catalogue of errors. For almost all of the first half we took the ball into contact with poor body positions and for the first time I can remember were consistently rucked off the ball. When we did give the ball to the backs they were strangely becalmed, taking the ball at jogging pace, knocking on, the list could go on.
Neither side could string more than a couple of phases together but the deadlock was broken when Chris Cole intercepted a pass to run in from 40 metres, Ed Bull converting. We refused to settle and there followed 15 minutes of forgettable rugby. Colfe's were pressing us on our line but their centres were too eager and drifted offside. The relieving penalty took us into their half and two line-outs later good handling allowed Alex Tate to add to his impressive haul of tries, Ed again converting. Colfe's answered almost immediately with a well-worked converted try.
A line-out on their 22 metre line produced another good drive and after some recycling Oscar Thurley dummied to score our third try. Colfe's answered with a penalty on the stroke of half-time to give a score of 19-10.
We were more purposeful in the second half another catch and drive enabled Alex Tate to add his second try. The forwards were by now imposing themselves on the opposition and a good interplay between forwards and backs enabled Rikesh Patel to crash over. Just when it looked as though we we going to cut loose, a bizarre scrum on our 22 saw the ball come out on our side and the Colfe's flanker, reacting first, strolled over unopposed.
Oscar was called up into the 1st team, Jack Britt came on at scrum half and Chris Cole went to No 8, Kudzai Maboreke replacing him on the wing. A tempting attacking blindside scrum produced a lovely 8 9 14 for Kudzai to score in the corner. To finish off the game a speculative kick over an advancing Colfe's back line bounced up into Fraser Arnott's arms and he beat his man to score in the corner.
For the forwards Ed Goodger and especially Freddie Godding worked hard in both attack and defence and captain Tom Wilson (picture above)'s tackling was excellent. Let us hope that the rush of blood associated with a local derby has gone away and normal service can be resumed next week.
3rd xv won 36 – 0
U15A lost 22 - 13
U15B won 7 -49
U14A lost 12 - 59
U14B lost 0 – 53
U13A lost 52 – 0 Click here for some pictures of the match
U13B lost 17 – 7
U12A won 17 – 10
U12B won 17 – 15