The U14As were fully aware of the rivalry and bragging rights that this match posed and as such had pumped themselves up for it like no match before!
The opposition were aggressive and very well drilled, particularly at the ruck. A challenge had certainly been set for us. Despite this, the boys set off at a great early pace, hitting hard in both defence and offence. We were displaying levels of aggression that we had not shown before. Epsom’s fly half proved to have a good boot on him, but the Collegers were struggling to provide anything else particularly dangerous. Very early on, from a string of excellent plays, Charlie Parker crashed over in the corner for the first score, 5-0 to the home side.
Epsom dominated at the ruck for the entire first half and had plenty of ball to play with. However, regardless of this they were not able to do much with it, as our defensive line speed was intense. The pressure put on the visitors was phenomenal, ensuring dropped balls and turnovers aplenty for St John's.
Epsom may not have been able to run the ball around our back line, but a few silly penalties led to a quick tap which led to a further 10m back, at which point we had lost 30-40m in a small space of time. Epsom used this momentum and picked-and-drove their way over the line. 5-5. Our response to which was exactly what it needed to be, as Henry Corbett managed an excellent steal and another crash over the line with Epsom defenders powerless to stop him. Trevitt added the 2 for a 12-5 lead.
With the clock running down, Epsom had a lineout in their own half, told it was to be the last action of the half, they ran the ball, were turned over and in a flawless phase of play by the Eagles, the ‘try of the game’ was scored as Trevitt delivered a perfectly weighted cross-field kick to Joe Moss who touched the ball down in the corner. A weighty blow, 17-5 at half time.
Before the final try, the first half had been nip and tuck, with both teams giving it their all, the second half did not disappoint either, but it was the boys in green who were to deliver the telling blows. The Eagles were demonstrating just how badly they wanted to end their season with a victory and came out the blocks quickly again. Pressure saw the ball plucked from between the Epsom Half-backs and Macallister went over from 30m with a superb interception try. 24-5. Epsom began to get their close quarters game going and were rewarded with their second score not long after this, follwing a series of rumbles. 24-10.
Ryan Trevitt’s kicking has to be mentioned as a highlight, for not only this match but our entire season. Whether clearing kicks of +40m, delivering grubbers, chips or cross-fields, or nailing conversions from the touchline. A string of penalties saw Moss go over from a quick tap in the corner, Trevitt adding 2 more to make it 31-10.
Following kick off and a mighty thump downfield from Trevitt, Jack Goodman popped up with an intercept (the second gift for the boys in green) and did what he does best, a run in from about 60m. 38-10 with 6 minutes remaining. Epsom heads appeared to be down, however they showed great endevour to keep going and took advantage of a drop in focus of the boys in green, adding two scores in the final 5minutes to make it 38-24 at half time. And that was it, the 2016 rugby season. When the final whistle went, the boys showed just exactly what it meant to them to win this match.
As a group they have demonstrated great resiliance and shown such improvement since the start of the season. With this performance, they should look ahead to their days as U15s and condsider Cranleigh, Brighton, KCS, Hurst, RGS and Eastbourne as beatable.
It has been a pleasure coaching this group of boys this season, and we wish them the best of luck for the rest of their time at St John's.