Match 15. The latest return fixture saw Derby make the trip to Mellish with hopes of having the opportunity to explore new options. A sub-zero morning was met with concern but assurances as to playability were received so we headed to Nottingham to find a well-maintained pitch which was soft but not heavy under-foot and promised much in the way of quality attacking play.
At kick off it was immediately clear that Mellish had worked considerably on their tackling and breakdown skills as Derby made hard work of the opening exchanges. It wasn’t long, though, before the visitors crossed the whitewash for the first time, captain Rhys Williams thinking he had scored the first try. The joy was short-lived however as he was adjudged to have crossed the dead ball line (the match was being played within the 5m lines so the usual try line was the dead ball line). The deadlock didn’t last long as Danny Harris crossed from the resulting scrum.
Derby continued to dominate the entire match, restricting Mellish to very little time in opposition territory with aggressive defence and effective use of the choke tackle forcing turnovers whenever the home side put a few passes together. Indeed the traffic was entirely on-way as several players added their names to the scoresheet, “Bomber” and Will “Woody” Woodward both notched four, Cameron Finlay and Rhys grabbed a brace each while Tim Wood and Oscar West also both added five-pointers.
The final scoreline read 70-0 but there was a feeling that Derby could have done more. It was a game of individual talent when a team effort would have seen even more tries and it was definitely a match devoid of any real pace and tempo. This definitely played more into the home side’s hands and is something that the coaching team are keen to put right before next week. That being said there were strong performances from Rhys and Finn Courtney in the backs as well as Ethan Morris, on his return from injury, and Oscar in the forwards. It was one of the other players from the heart of the engine room that claimed the man of the match award, Jacob Brady’s intense tackling and work at the breakdown showed what he is capable of and a couple of storming runs underlined his power and value to the team.
Muppet of the morning appeared cut-and-dry when Rhys realised that he had forgotten to pick up his shirt and tie. However, after arriving 45 minutes late, Finn Courtney put his hand up for this particular award when he managed to run unopposed so far over the try line that we thought he had started to run home! The honours were shared for equally dumbfounding instances of muppetry.
Next week is a much tougher test as we travel to Lichfield. This is a team we have never beaten but who we always run close; maybe this time we will finally achieve the memorable victory.
Match Report by Marc Williams