Thurrock 38 v 16 Romford
ON a bright and breezy Sunday morning at Oakfield, Thurrock Under16’s took to the park against Essex division 1 Romford RFC.
On the back of a very good performance away to Woodford, there were some major team changes due to injures and Holidays. With no regular scrum half or full back, George White took on the mantel as playmaker and Captain Connor Smith Allan started in the very unfamiliar position at the back. (He got v lonely and is longing to get back his head back in the scrum where it belongs!!)
After a unique kick off from Caolan Watts Adams the following scrum saw Romford gaining ground but good work in the loose from Naji gave the ball back to the home team. Romford’s forwards started to work well and after several phases of play they broke loose from the side of a ruck, the following missed tackle allowed Romford to score first after 14minutes on the clock.
More indiscipline at the restart gave Romford another penalty but they could not make ground, and the ball was turned over by the strong Thurrock pack and the resulting scrum gave T’s a platform to release their back line and after good distribution from White and Watts Adams, to Sebastian Ibanez-Solano who made a storming run and a good offload allowing our flying winger Aeron to run in a try from just inside the halfway line on 15 mins. With a strong breeze, the conversion was no certainty but Watts Adams was on fire with his kicking boots and slotted the ball between the uprights.
After a good battle of the packs, the crowd were a little surprised, after the home team had been awarded a rare penalty just inside the half way line and an attempt at the posts was chosen. The kick fell agonisingly short, but all was not lost as Romford knocked the ball forward and a 5 meter scrum was awarded. This was Naji territory and the big number 8 did not disappoint and smashed his way through under the posts on 21 minutes for try number two.
Watts Adams saw one of his easier kicks fly through the posts.
Romford came back with strong ground work towards the Thurrock line and a pass out wide saw them breach the line once again not converted.
The following period of play saw both teams making inroads but failing to convert due to either poor handling or slight indiscretions.
Thurrock line outs were working well with the “leaping salmon” Tom Travis being found by hooker Dan Ulph with great regularity.
Romford were camped on the Thurrock line for a period but Ulph with his front row stalwarts Beany and Skippy won their first scrum of many against the head and Naji relieved the pressure with a strong run. Half time was looming, but T’s scrum half White spotted a gap near the Romford line, he was stopped short but had the insight to produce a great offload to winger Joe Wiseman who was supporting well and added to the try tally. The wind got up and the kick flew inches wide.
T’s went into half time with a slender lead.
Thurrock started to turn the screw in the second half after a kick from Watts Adams put T’s into their opposition territory where they were to stay for most of the half.
A knock on at a line out, gave T’s a good scrum possession. T’s strong 8 got the ball to fellow back rower Frasier Steadman who make ground with his direct style of running and gave good ball for the Thurrock backs to use. Another line out pluck from the air by Travis, saw the ball recycled out wide but the ball did not go to hand and Romford took the ultimate advantage following another missed tackle and scored under the posts, converted.
The following kick off did not reach the mandatory 10 meters but the resultant scrum was won against the head giving the possession back to the home side who went through the phases of play Ulph again making a strong run towards the Romford line the offload went to hand and excellent running from Matt Watson saw the ball across the line once again but the was held up by a desperate Romford back line. Romford thought they knew what to expect from the resulting 5 meter scum, but the backs option was well chosen by the half backs and again Aeron breached the Romford line 17 minutes into the second half. Watts Adams producing another wonder kick to convert from the tram lines.
After the restart the game got a little scrappy with Thurrock being penalised several time for coming in at the side at Ruck time.
Smith Allan was given a break from his lonely full back possession with Harry Warwick taking over at the back with his usual gusto and new addition Grant Heyward coming into bolster the front line.
A charged down Romford clearance set up more good ball for Thurrock with Max Miller and Michael Wiseman tenacious at the breakdown, a clever chip over produced more desperate defence from Romford and another ball held up above the try line. However the resultant scrum 5 had exactly the same result as the previous, with the wing option being used and Aeron went over for his hat trick on 30 mins, again the Thurrock 10 slotted the ball over from the side lines. It is now coming to be expected!
After another T’s knock forward from the restart, Romford scrum was again under pressure and the ball again came to the home side. They moved the ball well through the centre partnership of Ibanez-Solano and Matt Watson, with the ball being delivered to the strong running Smith Allan who was taken down inside the Romford 22, the forwards battered away at the Romford back line and eventually succeeded with a trademark lunge from Christian Cunningham-Wood, on 32 minutes another super kick from Watts Adams saw the try converted.
Romford heads did not go down and the team from down the road fought to get back on terms but more great work from the forwards saw them getting no possession and the final move of the match saw the ball come back to the home side following a Romford scrum on 5 meters and was kicked into touch by the Thurrock 10.