On what can only be described as a very wet Sunday morning, Pinner U14s resumed their league endeavours against Teddington RFC. Newly promoted Pinner hoped to continue their winning performance after beating Hackney Bulls convincingly in their previous league game.
As both teams went through their pre-match warm ups the skies darkened and the rain penetrated even the most waterproof of coats and jackets of both players and supporters; but in fairness this was not going to dampen what turned out to be a great game.
The report, blow by blow, has unfortunately has had a soggy ending, only the sketchiest report remains!
The first half saw Teddington winning the toss and elected to kick. This was the first test of how good players were able to hold onto the ball in its very slippery state. Deep into the Pinner twenty two, the forwards progressed well until fierce tackling halted them on the half way line, the ball squeezed itself from the ensuing ruck to find itself now in the hands of a Teddington forward. A quick side step past two Pinner players saw him then create space to pass to his fly half, who, not expecting such a pass could not gather it in. With the ball now on the ground, Pinner powered over, driving the opposition on to their back feet. The ball was popped passed through the backs and into the hands of Kai Gordon, who with his trademark looping run crossed the line for the first of Pinners four tries.
This was converted by Freddy Hart.
From the restart, Pinner were slow to react from their own kick, within seconds, Teddington were deep within the home teams half, missed tackles and a lack of organisation allowed the opposition to cross the try line for their only try.
The first half was erratic, with many handling errors, penalties and scrums, partly because of the weather and partly both sets of players being a little too eager to get to the loose ball. From one of these scrums, which was given five metres from the Teddington line, Pinner with a good drive under the posts resulted in a home try by Ben Stone. This was the break through that Pinner needed, it allowed them to play more freely and with great support play Pinner went on to score another try, again, in a similar fashion to the previous try, Pinner went into the half time break three tries to one up.
The second half continued much in the same manner as the first, broken play, knock-ons and great work from both sets of players who seemed to cancel each other out with every move. The rain at this point made both visibility and passing difficult and the call from both home and away coaches was to keep the ball close, use the forwards and hope for a loose ball. As it happened, the game plan appeared to work in favour of Pinner, who, from another scrum, worked the ball wide to Kai Gordon who sped towards the opposition try line, putting the ball down between the posts. Minutes later, Teddington mirrored the Pinner move, with the opposition fullback running through three defenders into the corner, fortunately for Pinner a quick thinking Gabriel Michaels managed to get a try saving tackle which took the player over the dead ball line.
With the final blow of the whistle, Pinner were winners, 24-5 making it two from two. Their next fixture is against Harrow RFC and then away at Bishops Stortford in November
On a bright Sunday September morning Pinner U14s started their Middlesex League journey at home to Hackney Bulls. It was going to be an interesting contest, history would see to that. Last season saw both teams promoted after a rampant Pinner, convincingly put over 50 points on the board, ended Hackney Bulls run of not having a score against them. The result of this was Pinner went on to celebrate as League champions.
Pinner were able to field a very strong squad, with numbers increasing, all places are up for competition and 22 players made themselves available to play, some being prepared to support from the side line.
There was an air of anticipation around the pitch; mainly from parents, as the players themselves gave the impression of not being focused – however it was put down to pre match nerves as they did not know how Hackney had developed from their last encounter.
From the blow of the ref’s whistle, at the kick off, it was apparent Pinner were focused, determinedly chasing the ball and dominating play. Following a ruck in the oppositions 22 the ball zipped through the Pinner pack, finding it in the hands of Kai Gordon who ran out to the right wing, drawing three defenders with him, allowing space for Ben Stone to crash through to the line, a try in the first two minutes – a fabulous start. At such a tight angle, the conversion was not made.
The restart saw the ball flighted deep into the Pinner half, Charlie Gascoine took the ball after a great catch, and passed it along the line of backs, and eventually Kai received the ball and burst through six Hackney players who were unable to stop him crossing the line again, near the right touchline. The conversion was made by Freddy Hart, the first of eight during the match.
The feeling pitch side was that Pinner were definitely on their game and supporters / parents were going to be watching a great demonstration of Youth Rugby.
Hackney had the restart, kicking into what they had hoped was open space, unfortunately for them, the ball was caught by Jacob Talbot, who led the charge into the Hackney half, supported by Taylor Goodman and Marc Souster. The ensuing ruck enabled scrum half Louis George to switch play to the left, where George Tillett evaded Hackney centres and sprinted to the try line. Pinner had scored three tries within the first seven minutes. Yet again, Freddy Hart, who had definitely brought his kicking boots with him, converted: 19-0 to Pinner.
From each restart Pinner were straight on to Hackney Bulls, forcing handling errors and tackling them with such ferocity, dominating each ruck. Even when the Hackney fly-half managed to break away, he was tackled by two Pinner boys, who were not going to let Hackney score against them. The front and second row played their part and this was confirmed as Louis George was given time to pass to the centres, this time placing themselves on the left of the field. Quick and precise passing saw an unimpeded Kai receive the ball and cut through the middle to score under the posts.
Hackney, at this point, didn’t give up. They started to get themselves more into the game, their pack managing to secure the ball from the ruck, and after some great interchanges, the ball was seen to come out to their left wing. Swift short passes enabled the winger to side-step the Pinner defence and run towards the try line, only to be met by Findlay Schofield who stood his ground and pulled off a crunching tackle forcing him into touch. From the line out, which Pinner lost, the ball went into the middle of the field, but the resilient forwards turned the ball over while Ryan Healy went through the middle, shrugging off three tackles, to create space for a beautiful weighted pass to Kai Gordon, who definitely knows where the try line is… to score his third try of the game. 33-0
Half time brought changes to the Pinner team, substitutions being made by coaches Steve George and Keith Stone, with the intention of continuing to play in the manner of the first half.
Again, the second half started with Pinner dominating open play, however, Hackney who had been given an encouraging half time talk, which rallied them into a higher level play showing their true capabilities. Wave after wave of pressure was placed onto Pinner, putting the defence at full stretch, deep within their own 22. This was now becoming more of an evenly matched game. With Pinner defending on their try line, the ball was passed to Charlie Gascoine, who darted up the pitch; as he was tackled, Ryan Healy picked a path through the opposition carrying the ball to within 5 metres of the line. Following an infringement, a scrum was awarded to Pinner. The scrum was strong, and Brandon Cotter, playing number 8, was able to pick and go, scoring another try for Pinner.
Pinner, cheered on by the strong home support, stepped up a gear. The passing was precise, with players running from all directions. A pass to Ryan saw him dive for the line, only to be disallowed for not placing the ball down cleanly. His obvious disappointment did not lasting long, as he ran in a given try a few minutes later, this time making sure he placed the ball down correctly – much to the delight of the supporters.
Pinner were on fire, the pack winning balls at each break down. Substitute scrum half Sam Marchant, had plenty of time to make telling passes and direct the forwards, when they needed to drive in mauls and rucks, pulling his flankers in for support. From one of these rucks Joseph Burling was able to pick the loose ball and stretch for the line, another try converted.
With four minutes to go, Max Skerton, playing his first game for Pinner, for over five years, amazed everyone on the pitch and touchline, especially his father, by ripping the ball off a Hackney forward, on the half way line, ignoring the high tackle and a further two players hanging on to him and drove through Hackney players into open space. With the rest of the team watching on, he ran the full length of the opposition half to place the ball under the posts; not bad for a prop forward!
The game finished with Pinner winning 61-0.
First time this season for Under 14s
This morning, Sunday 15th September saw Pinner RFC Under 14s take to the pitch for a friendly match against Maidenhead RFC. Many of the players thought this was going to be a training session and had other commitments already in place; seven key players were not available, however, those who put on the Pinner match tops gave a very good account of themselves.
Maidenhead visited Pinner with a large squad, combing their A and B Teams – the A team play in the Berkshire Youth League Division 1 and the B team also play in the Berkshire Youth League in Division 2. A tall order for the growing Pinner squad, introducing two match debutants and players in unfamiliar positions.
From the opening kick, Maidenhead demonstrated why they were effectively 5 divisions above Pinner, their passing was precise and left Pinner players looking a little sluggish in the breakdowns, resulting in two converted tries within five minutes.
Pinner did not let this get to them and as the game developed started making the tackles and started to make the passes to allow the centres to get into the opposition half. The first half continued with Maidenhead dominating open play and going on to score further tries – their winger proving a very slippery character for Pinner backs, each was converted by an excellent kicking boot of Maidenheads number 10.
The second half started with Pinner taking the ball into the opposition half creating a well-supported rolling maul, which allowed scrum half Luis George to feed the ball out to the pack, a strong ruck enable full back Kai Gorgon to take the ball at full pace and side step the opposition defence and carry the ball to underneath the posts. This appeared to spark them in to life and much of the remainder of the game saw both teams cancelling out attacks. However, with Maidenhead rotating their squad, the last ten minutes saw them dominate more and scored a few more tries.
This was a good introduction to the season for the Under 14s – the challenge of playing a very strong side highlighted areas that will need tightening up if they are to achieve the levels they managed last season. Next Sunday sees a home training session followed by the first league match of the season versus Hackney Bulls on Sunday 29th September at 11am. This of course will be tightly contested game as last season saw Pinner convincingly beat them to become Division Champions.