Mater Maria U16s V Gowerton U16s
The build up for the final game was intense. Gowerton have never failed to beat there would be opponents, and this crop of young men didn’t want to be the team to lose. Once again injuries played a large role, in the front row, Woodcock was still carrying a shoulder injury that limited his movement, Raffi Richards had received an unpleasant whack in the nose that made playing for him uncomfortable and Aiono our only other prop was battling through various niggles due to having played the majority of the games. Coach Cullen opted to start the game with un-contested scrums to allow all second rows the opportunity to start this meant the front five consisted of; Steadman, Stagg, Freeman, Catto and, ever present for his lineout throwing, Sanghera. This in-fact bolstered the team and gave them a more athletic and robust feel. This complemented with a backrow of Kaniewski, Cort and Butler gave Gowerton a confidence boost ahead of what would be a very physical encounter.
The backline with less options for rotation due to injury and player position , Wells was opted for at 9 in-front of Williams with the agreement they would both feature. Davies, I-Thomas and G-Williams provided the core midfield as they had done previously, while the back three of T Richards, J Thomas and John offered some excitement.
The focus of the team as previous was to challenge our Australian friends by playing a more expansive form of rugby as from previous encounters we were aware that the physical route often resulted in little or no reward.
The game started as expected with some heavy clashes and some barnstorming runs. Gowerton looked the more composed in possession, however Mater offered a strong resolve that was clearly going to be difficult to breakdown. Territory and possession changed hands throughout the first twenty minutes with nothing to choose between the teams. Impressive for Gowerton at this point were: Kaniewski running outside the ten channel and into space as directed – this allowed him some space and gained the team some ground. John at fullback in attack was a constant threat and with Davies at outside half looking to spread the ball he had several good running opportunities. While the hard graft of the forwards; Catto, Steadman and Butler in particular ensured Mater had no real space to create anything.
After some time camped on the Mater line Gowerton struck, a strike move directed by Davies. Wells provided crisp service, Davies drew the defence up to the tackle-line, I-Thomas choose a direct line/angle and sliced through, only his strong running got him over the line and the try was awarded. Gavin Williams added the extras.
The later stages of the half saw Gowerton tested in defence, big hits, jackles and interceptions were all witnessed as Gowerton, led exceptionally by young Cort stood their ground.
Mater Maria 0-7 Gowerton: Half-Time.
Once again the squad rotation previously adopted kicked in. Five forwards changed with R Richards, Aiono, Woodcock, Webb and Owen taking the field. Three backs with C Williams coming on at 9 and B Davies and B Lewis replacing J-Thomas and T Richards on the wings. Concerns about this weakening the Gowerton resolve were quickly relieved after a ferocious and intense first five minutes that saw Mater experience more territory. Gowerton eventually weathered the storm and relieved some pressure. The spirit of the team was epitomised by young Ben Lewis who when faced with a 3 on 1 overlap attacking his wing, timed his run perfectly to smash into the first player receiving the ball and stop the attack, “outstanding defence” Mr Mason shouted from the touchline.
As the game went on Gowerton started to dominate both possession and territory. This resulted in long periods of possession in the Mater half. Gowerton were throwing everything at the Mater team, quick penalties, driving lineouts, wide play, strong midfield running, nothing seemed to break their resolve. Clever 10 – Davies opted for a different option. Have spotted the Mater team’s fast defence he opted for a chip and chase. Davies and Lewis chased and harassed possession was spilt and backrow replacement Parry was in the perfect position to pounce, 12-0 as the conversion went wide.
This gave Gowerton the breathing space and cushion they needed. Mater once again forced their way back into the Gowerton half and jostled robustly with the Gowerton defence. Gowerton determined to not sacrifice a score stood strong. Despite Mater crossing the line on more than one occasion no score was added. This resolve was epitomised by late replacement Robyn Williams. Robyn returned to game time after a nasty head knock in Game 2, with no concern for his personal safety, he wanted to play, after several intense checks from physio and coach he was elected fit to participate. Within minutes of entering the battle he was robustly tackling and making his physical presence felt.
The final score 0-12, Gowerton were ecstatic.
Match report: Mr W Thomas
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