Cambridgeshire County Festival
13 wins in 15 matches - a great start to the 2017-18 season for the U10s
Cambridge County Festival U10s at Peterborough Lions RFC - Sunday 1st October, 2017
A strong start to the season with 13 wins from the 15 matches played. Our boys ran in an impressive 53 tries whilst conceding only 12. It was great to see how quickly the boys have picked up the new rules (rucks, mauls and scrums) and also how well the new recruits have integrated into the squad.
There were plenty of positives to take from our play including generally good rucking and strong tackling and there were plenty of examples of tries scored through effective team work. Areas that we need to work on include: direct running into contact, not handling in the ruck, positional awareness, better organisation of attacking and defensive lines and, importantly, providing better support for ball carriers and using it.
Finally, a big thanks to parents for the great support that you provided!
Coach - Rob, Assistant - Ryan
Players: Austin, Elia, George, Hugh, Jake, Jacob, Jonty, Lachlan, Michael and Will
Match 1 vs Royston Crows (lost 0-1)
Sand had a strong squad but we were slow starting in our first game against a good Royston team (probably the best team we played). Our tackling and rucking was poor meaning that we allowed Royston to apply early pressure which eventually lead to the only score of the game. We picked up our play and began to exert pressure on Royston but continued to lose balls in the rucks due to good counter-rucking by Royston. The long narrow pitch thwarted our efforts to break free, as we kept running out of space. This was also because, even though we had a number of good runners (in particular Elia and Jonty), too often the runner did not look for a pass and died with the ball (a bit of a theme of the festival!). Although we played poorly we only lost by one try so there’s plenty to build on!
Match 2 vs Wendens Ambo Knights (won 5-0)
Coach Rob put it to the team that we were a lot better than our performance against Royston. That and some unopposed practice as we had a gap between games meant we were much more switched on for our second game. This was unfortunate for Wendens Ambo Knights, who were about to play their third game in a row. Very quickly Elia scored after George forced the ball to be spilled by Wendens in his tackle (this was a positive theme of the festival as we scored a lot of tries from turnover ball). In a similar vein, having tackled a Wendens player into touch on our right, at the restart, we put Elia into space on the right wing, allowing him to run three-quarters of the length of a pitch for a second try. Hugh scored a third with a good run, before some good rucking gave quick ball to Elia to score his hat-trick try. Following some more good tackling, Austin scored our fifth try off another restart. Our top tacklers of the game were Jonty and Will. It was good to see Jake, Jacob and Michael playing well in the middle, either competing at rucks or driving forward and pushing the opposition back.
Match 3 vs Huntingdon Green (won 4-0)
By the third game Sand were really getting into their stride and comfortably beat Huntingdon Green. Our rucking was improving, and enough boys were tackling to stop the opposition putting much pressure on us. Again we had good runs in the middle of the pitch from Lachlan, Jacob, and Jake. George was into everything, tackling, rucking and passing. Our first try came from a strong run by Michael, with a wide pass (I think from George) to Jonty who scored in the corner. Our second try was a solo run by Elia. The third try was a good team try with Elia starting it with a run; we won the ruck when he was tackled and then Jacob used good strength to drive over the line through about three Hunts players! Our final try was another good team effort with a run from Jacob followed by a quick ruck and a wide pass from Jonty to Austin who scored in the corner. Tackling was generally good, although at one point 4 or 5 players went to sleep on our right from a restart, and it took a cover tackle by Jonty, coming off the opposite wing, to save the try. This was possibly Sand's best game in terms of team performance.
Match 4 vs Fengate Fireballs (won 7-1)
The game against Fengate was pleasing in many respects as we won easily. However, by now we were expecting great things from Sand, so it was disappointing that we left a number of tries on the field due to a lot of individual running, even though support was on hand. We also had a moment when everyone went to sleep and we allowed Fengate to score only the second and last try we conceded at the festival. Hugh started the scoring with a hat-trick of tries (a run through the middle, a long run out wide, and the best following a good ruck and a long pass from Elia). Then Austin scored a couple of tries, one following a good ruck, and quick pass, the second a strong run by Jacob and pass in the tackle). Another good run by Hugh led to a try by Jacob. Finally Jonty ripped the ball out of a maul and made a pass to Elia who scored. A lot of good work was done by Michael, Jake and Lachlan in the middle, with George and Will getting stuck into tackles and rucks.
Match 5 vs Peterborough Lions (won 4-0)
Another comfortable win. By this stage our defence was looking pretty robust, however the boys starting searching for individual tries. Perhaps understandable at their age and being the final game. We could have easily doubled our score with a bit more awareness of supporting players, and looking to get the ball wide after an initial break. Austin scored our first try straight from a scrum restart, taking advantage of players tied up in the scrum. Then George scored a good individual try (which was fortunate as only Jonty was in support as we played again on a long narrow pitch and I suspect the boys were getting tired!). Another scrum led to a try as Will (at scrum half) passed to Jonty who scored in the corner. Finally another team try was started by a run from Austin, who passed to Jonty, who put Hugh into space to score. The game ended with Jacob going on a number of rampaging runs, gaining good yards.
Coach – Manuel, Assistant – Keith
Players: Alessandro, Alex, Andrew, Bo, Ebrima (“E”), Jack, Louis, Mateo, Nikolai and Theo
Match 1 vs Ely Lions (won 3-0)
Blood started strongly with some good, strong running against a strong Ely side. It was good to see the team make the most of a long, narrow pitch by using their new-found rucking skills which meant they were able to keep possession through multiple phases of play as they advanced into the opposition half. There was good, strong running from Bo and well-taken nippy tries in the corner from Matteo and Andrew. There were some strong tackles from Alessandro, Jack and Alex and good support from Theo, Louis and Nikolai.
Match 2 vs St Neots Cardinals (won 8-0)
This was a high scoring affair with the team playing well, although many of the tries were from long range and would not have been successful against stronger opposition – as the boys found out in later matches. We need to support the player with the ball and the ball carrier needs to be able to expect support on either side wherever possible. Good tries from Nikolai, Theo, Matteo x2, Bo, Louis and Alessandro. We also need to talk to each other in a positive way and not be critical.
Match 3 vs Fengate Fireballs (won 5-1)
Lack of concentration in the next game led to an early try for Fengate. We lacked organisation in defence and failed to spread out, allowing one of their speedy players to run around us and score. This woke the boys up and Bo responded with a strong solo try. Our running was quite direct in this game with some good rucking and a memorable run from E that nearly ended in a try. Matteo, Nikolai and Andrew demonstrated good speed and awareness to score further tries with some nice sidesteps along the way. Our faster runners do need to keep looking for support and not become isolated, though. The game ended with another strong try by Bo.
Match 4 vs Wendens Ambo Knights (won 3-2)
A close game. We gave away an easy turnover score at the start and although that did partly wake us up our boys were clearly starting to tire and the tackling and rucking lacked intensity. However, the boys showed character to grind out a narrow win with 3 good tries. Bunching up in defence and a tendency to handle in the ruck remained an issue and the team need to develop more positional awareness so they enter the ruck correctly.
Match 5 vs Huntingdon Greens (won 2-1)
The team were clearly tired by this stage and the quality of the earlier games was therefore not quite there, but again they managed to grind out a win by keeping possession, slowing the game down and trying to play in the opposition half.
Coach - William, Referee - Chris!
Players: Declan, Freddie, Johnnie, Lewis, Nile, Raymond, Reuben, Ted, Tobias, Zach
Match 1 vs Peterborough (Bretton) Lions (won 3-0)
Cambridge started strongly and maintained the pressure throughout the game. Some good recycling of the ball at the breakdown lead to an early break through try from Nile. After a quick start by Peterborough and a strong tackle from Johnnie, Cambridge turned over the ball which was quickly recycled by Ted to Reuben who magically sided stepped the opposition for a great try. In the final minutes Nile smashed his way through the middle to score again and finish the game.
Match 2 vs Peterborough (PRUFC) (won 3-1)
Cambridge were once again too strong for the second Peterborough team. Great strong running from Raymond who is developing well as a ball carrier lead to great field position for Cambridge. This lead to some good moments of linking support play in the middle of the pitch from Johnnie, Ted and Reuben which lead to Reuben scoring in the corner. There were phases of good passing and running from Declan too. Zach had a devastating run down the middle of the pitch, no one on the opposition came near to tackling him and he scored with a big smile!
Match 3 vs St Ives (lost 0-2)
This was Cambridge Blue’s hardest match by some way. A very sizable, strong and well drilled set of St Ives players gave the Cambridge boys a lesson in rucking and maintaining ball possession. All the game was played in the Cambridge half who spent most of the game defending. Some brave and strong tackles from the team in particular Reuben, Johnnie, Nile and Tobias. However, we were rucked off the ball at the breakdown and found it hard to gain and maintain possession. In attack we were chopped down by very effective opposition tackles which resulted in frequent turnover ball to St Ives. Great guts and determination from our boys but their faces were stunned as the final whistle went, battle shock evident!
Match 4 vs Shelford B (won 3-1)
Cambridge were now starting to show signs of fatigue having spent most of the previous match defending in a very physical game. The match was rather laboured with lots of stops for scrummaging, however, when given possession and space Cambridge showed great pace and determination with Tobias going over for a try in the corner. A period of ball retention by Cambridge lead to a pass from Freddie to Lewis who ran the length of the pitch to score his first try for Cambridge! Well done! A period of poor tacking let in a try from Shelford but Cambridge reacted quickly and Nile charged through to score and end the match.
Match 5 vs Wendons Ambo Crusaders (won 3-2)
Boys on both teams were showing signs of tiring so this match was rather scrappy. Cambridge took an early lead with two tries from Reuben who on both occasions was able to side step the entire WA team. WA played with determination and scored in the middle and in the corner to create a level score and a tense final few minutes. A strong run in the centre from Johnnie was tackled short of the line but support from Ted and Raymond lead to a pass to Nile who went over the line to win the match.