Sidcup U9s at the Bromley Festival
By Ian Anderson
After the unexpected hike from the parking areas to the pitches, the team arrived with 15 mins to spare before the first game.
To be fair we had enough boys (no girls this week through unavailability) warmed up ready to start, so I didn’t feel poor prep could be blamed for slowness out of the blocks. The squad consisted of Monty, Freddy, Vinnie, Oliver Mac, William (Wiggles), Brommers, Max, Henry, Big George, Aaron, Sonny and Jake. A couple of the boys played at Foxbury but on the whole it was a first experience for the majority of a contact festival.
Our first opponents were Medway. A good side. They were physically strong, but we matched them in that area, ball handling was equal, but they had some experience and that was where they took advantage. We were 1 up at half time and tight as it was the guys on the pitch were learning fast. 5 changes at half time may not of helped as we got squeezed out of the game in the second half (and the pitch!! Our guys have to learn to step in from the lines.) It only finished with a 2-1 loss, but I wouldn’t change a thing because as with the 1st half team the 2nd half team grew into the game. Medway went on to win the rest of their games, but lose to Beckenham in the cup final, which leads me to believe had we faced them later in the group I feel we’d have beaten them.
In our next game against Cranbrook, although we started steady but unconvincing we really came to life as the game went on. I don’t condone dirty tactic or ‘smashing’ someone but am pleased to see clean hard tackles from our guys. And we had an abundance of them. The physicality shook Cranbrook and that coupled with great team play and phenomenal running from the likes of Monty, saw us run in 5 tries to Cranbrook's 2.
At this point in the day we are still shouting out the coaches instructions and calling out the defence….
Next up was Bromley the hosts and a good team with decent skills. Although cagey at first runaway tries from Monty and Freddy put us at ease and then fine defensive work and trade mark Mr Wiggles speed saw us comfortably win 6-3, the coaching was a bit more relaxed, Sonny McGill had clicked, ‘If I hold my position in defence there is no hole for them to run at, if I don’t tackle them someone on my inside will.’ Cris and I felt a little eureka moment…..
Next up Park House. Us older readers will remember the hamlet cigar advert, well that was Cris and I. At the end of this winning match (that meant we had won all our games barring the Medway game meant we’d play in the Plate Final) I looked to Cris and said’ WOW!’ Our input had become minimal, and we got to watch like two ‘normal’ dads!! Monty ran through again and again, Freddy hunted for the tackle and stalked along the line clearing the opposition off the pitch. Vinnie never missed a tackle and carried the ball with purpose, Oli M showed us that we have a player in the team who really fits the scrum half mould with intelligent passing away from the tackle area. Wiggles ran tight to the line then took a huge step in and evaded the defence impressively, Brommers found non existent gaps in the defence just with tidy footwork. Max got the ball in space, I shouted ‘Max, don’t slow down!’ he evaded there entire 7 with pure blistering pace to score at the other end of the pitch, the opposition supporters were aghast. Henry wrapped up and put down a boy double his size and I could tell he’d gritted his teeth and there was no way that boy was going anywhere, that resulted in a spill that we scooped up and scored from. Big George made some of his trade mark ‘Run Straight George’ moves, drew three players and offloaded for another assist. Aaron got stuck in more than he had and as a result got involved in more tackles than he had in previous games and came off buzzing, Sonny carried on with his amazing defensive work and kept sending the boys back inside to get tackled by the big hitters and Jake shone with both his tackling and ball carrying and chipped in with a lovely try. 6-2 but it felt like more, it was a pleasure to watch.
Cruising into the Plate final, queue the long wait and empty pitches and inevitable ‘how long?’ thoughts!!!
The guys become distracted the wait goes on, the risk is there that all the good work goes to pot and we start our Final sloppy. With the help of Matt Waldock, Dave and the lean mean Jim Roques we got the boys fired up again with a few handling games and got them moving. Bring on Beccs, we know its going to be a tough game but we’re confident. It was tight, we needed all the tacklers on form and they were!! We got our early tries and were 2-1 up with Beccs scoring on the stroke of half time. We’d had two tries disallowed too, with Jake adjudged to hand off and Monster being marginally forced in to touch. So the signs were good but it remained tight. A series of play in the second half that defied the boys tender years lead to Oli scoring giving us a 2 point cushion, Big George made his move, and with a child hanging off of each leg it took a third to shove him into touch in what would have been a well deserved try. Despite a late rally and try from Beccs we finished the stronger and won 3-2. (unfortunately the pitch marshal and Cris and I had got so wrap up in the excitement we had lost count and the game was scored 2-2, which to the Beccs Coaches credit he admitted was wrong)
We ran out Plate Champions, but moreover a fantastic team who had played some outstanding rugby. Be very proud players and very proud parents.
Stats 21 tries for 11 against,
Monster – 6
Freddy – 4
Oli – 3
Wiggles – 2
Max – 2
Brommers - 1