Match 16. A trip to Lichfield was on the cards for this Sunday. As per usual, the hosts were very welcoming and the boys got straight into the warm up, running exercises on handling and tackling. Although slightly down on numbers, we were still able to field a strong side for what we knew would be a tough contest.
As seems to have become customary, Derby started slowly. Lichfield’s pace and power stretching Derby’s defence and it wasn’t long before they registered the first score of the day. Unfortunately, that set the tone for much of the first period of a game which was to be split into thirds. The home side seemed able to turn the ball over at will and used a combination of slick handling with pace and power to breach our defence time and time again. Indeed, by the end of the first period it already looked like being a cricket score with Derby, for the first time this season, looking outclassed and (more worryingly) lacking desire.
Some stern words at the change of ends as well as some positional alterations seemed to do the trick though, as the rest of the match was to have a far more positive aura about it. Leading from the front, captain Rhys Williams took the game by the scruff of the neck, putting in a man of the match performance of sheer determination. The rest of the players followed his example, bolstering the defence with huge improvements in tackling and commitment at the breakdown. The visitors gradually forced their way back into the game as the pressure they were exerting led to the hosts’ discipline slipping and a string of penalties in Derby’s favour.
Were it not for the occasional lapse in concentration, the scoreline would have reflected the momentum shift more clearly but Lichfield were clinical on turnover ball and Derby were struggling to break the line. Indeed, despite all of the pressure, we were only able to salvage one score as Will “Woody” Woodward romped over the line with the final result sitting at a demoralising 60-5 to the home team.
On reflection, this was a real learning experience for a side that have been so dominant in other fixtures. There is a lot to improve upon if we are to challenge the best but one bad day at the office does not a bad team make and the manner of the response from the Derby side was massively pleasing; hopefully, we can take that resilience into future situations.
As a footnote to this game, our head coach received a call from the referee later in the evening who wished to comment on how much he had enjoyed taking charge of the game and wanted to impress upon us how much of a credit to the club the players, coaches and parents all were. He even singled out Rhys, Woody and Cameron Finlay for special mentions. He is in charge of the referee development in the area and is more usually found in the middle of games at National 3 level so this was a real compliment.
It’s not always about the result!
Match Report by Marc Williams