The first of the NLD pool matches was always going to be hard. Choosing to contest the match, with 14 vs Mansfields full U15s side, a brave decision. The boys started strongly, with strong scrums and making their tackles count. After nine minutes, Mansfield scored and converted, then quickly scored again. On the touch line we wondered. But the conditions were slippery, and Mansfield’s handling often let them down, giving the lads the opportunity to push Mansfield at the scrum. At 15 minutes, after another set piece, a cracking kick by Ben, chased hard by Ollie, and rewarded with a favourable bounce, saw Ollie score for Casuals.
Mansfield scored three more before the break, despite some very spirited defence on the Casuals line.
The lads kept fighting in the second half despite slipping further tries, and clearly put pressure on Mansfield who gave away penalties for playing off the ball, offside and coming in from the side. 3 penalties taken quickly put sustained pressure on their line. Casuals fought hard to the end, with examples like Chris picking and running twice from scrums despite being speared into touch. Their sustained pressure built up to a maul, driven over the line with the touchdown by (Big) Ben, converted by Ollie.
The scoreline of 60(ish) – 12 didn’t do the lads’ efforts justice. They all played out of their skins, against a side larger in number and size who were able to keep fresh by using their full bench. They should be very, very proud of themselves – superb discipline, a very strong scrum (only turned over once despite a numerical disadvantage), and a fighting spirit that didn’t drop. Well done!