3rd XV return to winning ways
By john Pritchard
3rd xv 55- 7 Colchester III
Cambridge 3rd XV 55- 7 Colchester 3rd XV
“SO that’s what winning feels like”. A sentiment heart felt after what has been a difficult second phase of the season for the team. Our last victory was January 13th, the last game in phase 1 of EC 1. We’ve been close in some games since then and just missed out due to lack of fresh legs or a bit of control and command from the players on the pitch, both of those elements were addressed in the team selection for the visit of Colchester.
We unfortunately had to concede the corresponding away fixture last month. The original date having fallen foul of the weather the only date left in Colchester’s calendar was March 17th, the last day of the 6 Nations and as it was a scheduled free weekend people had made plans, so we had 9 available which became 6 as the 2nd XV came calling. For this we were docked 5 points, league rules.
In fact, the 2nd XV had come calling this weekend as well and Captain Matt Jones, Chris Chivangaye and Bronik Youngman were all drafted into the squad that went to Richmond.
Those deserved opportunities to step up left us looking at a threadbare squad, again, missing regulars who were away at weddings or injured like Etienne who’s broken foot suffered in the 2nd minute at Norwich has finished his season. However, we were able to select 4 players who made their 3rd XV debuts this weekend and in doing addressed the issues raised above.
Archie Swainson and George Gadsby stepped up from the Colts, George Freeman, ex M&Y player, dropped me a text out of the blue mid-week for which I was very grateful and all 3 provided those fresh legs, and Stef Liebenberg got a chance to shake off the cobwebs before our tour (his first ever) to Brussels, and of course brought all the nous you would expect!
Now 2 of those names will obviously be recognised by many at the club, and one ought to be recognised by any visitor to the club. Archie and George Freeman, I predict, on the basis of their performance today be names we will get to know in the future.
The Gadsby name is of course instantly recognised as Georges dad Shaun is the clubs most capped player and the bar is named after him. Today was Georges first adult rugby match for the club and I’d not wanted to add any pressure beforehand by making a big deal out of another Gadsby playing senior rugby. Chatting to his mum, Judy, post-game, she was of the same view, however we can’t control our social media guru and it was out there pre-game, didn’t seem to faze George one bit!
So, to the game, Jon Evans was originally scheduled to take the game but was moved elsewhere and Ben Coady took charge in the middle and had a good game. As always, we thank CUDDRS for their support!
A blustery wind blowing towards town saw Colchester take its advantage first and receive our kick off.
15 min break down left saw Archie feed George Gadsby, playing on the wing, who went over in corner, George Freeman missed with the conversion.
30 min break from our 22 saw Ben Bates who fed support players and ultimately put Archie in under the posts. Stef converted
35 min Penalty in their 22 saw a great kick from their # 10 to put the line out in close 2 drives were repulsed but the 3rd was successful and the conversion kick was good
38 min sustained pressure in the Colchester 22, saw George Borakis pick up and go over, Stef again successful from the tee
Colchester struggled in the 2nd half to clear their lines with the wind in their faces and from one of those kicks George F fielded the ball and fed Dan Clifton who backed himself and scored, Stef converted
Breaks down the left then saw the ball worked right for Dan to score again in corner, tough conversion was missed
Colchester played rugby all game and from one of their attacks Archie, now on the wing, intercepted to score
A penalty in the Colchester 22 saw Stef go right and feed Dan, Stef converted
Dan score again
From a break by Stef and with the line at his mercy he fed Dan to score his 5th try Stef converted
Darren’s overriding ‘instruction’ both at training and on game days is that we want guys to have fun playing this game of ours, play with a smile on your face! With having fun comes confidence and from confidence comes a performance. Saturday demonstrated that, a dry day, bit of sun and ultimately our best 80 minutes perhaps since the first Renegades game.
Solid first half, the debutants grew into the game and provided that fresh impetus with speed and support and the 8, 9 and 10 axis worked well providing the direction and management we’ve looked to be missing on occasions.
The pack provided solid ball, driving Colchester off their own ball more than once. We welcomed back George Borakis after is embolism scare, he, Harry, Lewis, Alex and Dick (when they got on in the second half) drove hard in the scrum and in the loose, blustery conditions made throwing in tricky but we got decent lineout ball all game. George scored one try and dropped another over the line which earnt him DOtD, though Alex pushed him close for giggling when taking the ball into contact close to the Colchester line! Richard ran his previous night’s overindulgence off and in his own words ‘felt much better’ post game and captain Julian earned post-match accolades by not dropping the ball from any of the 3 kick offs he took. Ben gave us 80 action packed minutes, look at the photo album 1 from the game, (Thanks Gnome), to see the break and interplay with fellow back rower Archie that led to Archie going over for the 2nd try of the game. Archie caught well in the lineout 1st half and then enjoyed himself on the wing in the second scoring another try. Dex was his usual rumbustious self, he does run some damn fine lines!
Sam provided good service to his ‘bossy’ 10, though did have the confidence to ignore him occasionally, Stef was just class controlling and organising the back line. Tom Cormie enjoyed himself much more this week on his 2nd game back, this time in his preferred centre position earning his MOTM plaudits. Isa showed his flexibility and adaptability in dropping in to outside centre, we will get him back to flanker one day! George Gadsby didn’t let the occasion faze him, scored the first try on debut when playing on the wing and then swopped with Archie to play the 2nd half at flanker. Dan did the team proud in scoring 5 tries, backing his pace but more than that he worked hard to make himself available around the golf day he’d organised for his cricket club, leaving them on the 5th tee to make kick off, 5 obviously an important number for Dan Saturday! George Freeman slotted into 15 really well, made more than 1 key tackle and showed his class in his ball distribution when he entered the line.
A good win well deserved, it was a good game to watch played in great spirit with Colchester not taking a step back and constantly looking to run the ball hard. Two games left in the season, we look to have another colt playing with us next weekend demonstrating we are part of that route into adult rugby and players with ability move from us through to the 2nd XV and 1st XV.
Thanks to all the supporters always much appreciated, we had 3 match photographers, unheard of for the 3rd XV, Gnome, Benoit and Bob Coote. All 3 albums will be posted keep an eye out for them.