Beverley U15s lost a tightly contested match against Leeds-based Roundhegians, but will hopefully learn some important lessons from the defeat. With their regular fly-half absent the Beverley backs were forced to reshuffle but, with developing strength-in-depth within the squad, this can’t be used as an excuse for losing a match that could have been won.
Beverley clearly didn’t get out of first-gear in the opening exchanges and a reduced intensity in Beverley’s tackling, combined with a lack of urgency in their support play at the breakdowns, allowed Roundhegians take an early five-point lead.
It seemed like this was the wake-up call that was needed as pressure straight from the re-start pinned Roundhegians in their own twenty-two, where repeated strong runs from prop Harrison Petrie were soon rewarded as he stretched over for his first try of the day, converted by Tom Barnard. The match continued to fizz for the next ten minutes but it was evenly matched until Barnard, running deep from full-back, broke through the Roundhegians defence to dive over under the posts.
The conversion by Barnard stretched Beverley’s lead to 14-5 but this was short-lived, as Roundhegians struck back just two minutes later to close to within two points. Again, Beverley responded, with accelerated pace from Jasper Ghio and centre Nathan Cullen helping to keep the Beverley supporters in confident mood.
Captain Ben Wilkinson and number eight Ben Walker worked hard to control play in the middle third of the pitch for Beverley, with Walker in particular moving up fast and tackling hard to help contain Roundhegians’ pacey centres whilst securing loose ball at the breakdowns.
The increase in effort was rewarded as, with just two minutes of the half left, Petrie’s determined running up the centre of the pitch saw him crossing for his second try. Beverley, perhaps thinking about the half-time break, looked like they took their foot off the gas too early as Roundhegians scampered through in the dying seconds of the half for a converted try, levelling the score at 19 apiece.
Knowing that, as a team, they were not playing to their full potential, and that the game could go either way, Beverley started the second-half with the intention of raising the intensity of their effort, and improving the speed and width of the play through the backs.
Unfortunately though, their play fell short of the inventive and expansive game that they are capable of. At the same time, the intensity and pace of the breakdown support within the forwards was also below the quality we know they are capable of. Too many times Roundhegians forced through rucks and stole ball from under Beverley’s nose.
The problems of Beverley’s disarray was compounded by a string of minor injuries through the early second-half which in the forwards saw Ollie Waites coming into the game to cover for Petrie, Cameron Lawley switching with Ghio, whilst in the backs Harry Gunn came on for left-wing Ben Ashley, who had delivered some strong and pacey runs before being forced off with a wrist injury.
Throughout the half Beverley’s seeming inability to use the width of the field, reduced the potential of their attacking play. Meanwhile, Roundhegians kept up the pressure and, although Beverley held them out for the third quarter, they finally broke through Beverley’s defence, crossing for an unconverted try and retaking the lead for the first time since the eight minute of the match.
With everything still to play for, both teams kept working hard, but Roundhegians were building their momentum and were putting together more inventive passages of play, touching down for a second (converted) try after 23 minutes.
To their credit, Beverley dug in from this point and, although unable to really threaten Roundhegians’ try line again, defended their own lines to see the final whistle end proceedings at 19-31.
Next week Beverley travel to Dinnington, where they will need to show that they can respond to the clear need for an improvement in their tackling intensity and commitment at the breakdowns, and reignite their flowing and expansive game.
Final Score: Beverley u15s 31 Roundhegians 19
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