New benchmark for Saxons progress
- Tuesday, 29 November 2016
The Saxons Under 13s have enjoyed playing close matches against US Portsmouth (USP) since Under 8s rugby, but had always found USP too strong in the past.
But last Sunday the team produced their best display of the season to place US Portsmouth under immense pressure right from the start.
The Saxons have not been known as a team that starts well in competitive matches and have usually fallen behind early on, but not so recently.
The Saxons kicked to USP at the start and immediately put US Portsmouth under great pressure with a strong, quick defence and determined counter-rucking to win the ball back.
The Saxons then switched from defence to attack and moved the ball wide to Jack Adams who had some work to do, but jinked and powered over for a great opening try within a minute.
USP opted to receive again and the Saxons did it again, this time fly-half Matthew Thomas backing himself to finish after a solid side-step and dummy opened a gap and the Saxons were two ahead in as many minutes.
The Saxons' tails were up now and there was a concerted period of attack, but USP rallied, their defence held firm and they mounted some counter-attacks.
The Saxons' defence was well organised and their counter-rucking was telling, winning the ball back and attacking again.
Scrum-half Matthew Crouthers was next to score with a great sniping run from the back of the solid scrum.
The floodgates opened with the Saxons in full flow with further tries from Liam Charlson, Ben Brooker and Adams in quick succession before USP could react and work a strong move of their own to score in the corner after a determined run from their strong winger.
The first session concluded with Ollie Ganble bursting through to score a try with the score at 35-5.
The second and third sessions were much closer, with USP much more in contention and fighting hard for the ball.
USP scored again, but tries from Liam Charlson and Rob Henderson took the score difference to 35 points.
There was another score for Henderson and three more for Adams.
This was a very strong performance from a confident and in-form Saxons side against a strong and proficient USP team.
The game was won in the first 15 minutes, something the Saxons have never been able to do before, showing the value of playing with intensity and focus from the start and pushing an advantage home when a team are on the back foot.
Some of the play was very clinical with training ground moves being used and the pack working together to make breaks and offload.
There were sensible changes in play when opportunities arose which was seen with the tries by Thomas and Crouthers.
The fact that there were six try scorers from a forward, half-backs, centres and a winger suggests a team with ability and commitment who can mix it up and vary their style of play.