U8 – Game Report – Sunday 5 July 15
2nd Annual “BUSH vs BEACH” Game
Bowral vs Manly Roos (at Manly)
Hugh White – “Great Defence & Tackling”
Henry McMahon – “Great Running Rugby”
Bowral 26 (4 tries & 3 conversions)
Manly 45 (7 tries & 5 conversions)
Louie Kaufline – 2x tries & 1x conversion
Henry McMahon – 1x tries & 1x conversion
Angus Basham – 1x tries & 1x conversion
A glorious sunny Sunday morning greeted the Bowral Blacks U8s team as we arrived at Kierlie Park in Manly, for the first return leg, of the annual “Bush vs Beach” game against the Manly Roos RFC.
Unfortunately, due to the school holidays and other commitments, more than half of our squad were unavailable to play, and so the team had to rely upon a number of U7s players (who had also played in a round-robin against the manly U6s and U7s) to play up in the U8s as well.
Our side on the day comprised the following players:
Angus Basham (c), Louie Kaufline, Hugh White, Leio Bertolini, Hamish Wade, and Henry McMahon, and then Ari Knowles, Charlie Fannin, and Rory Basham from the U7s squad.
Our Captain for the game this week was Angus Basham. Angus actually started playing Rugby at Manly when he was 4 ½ in the then U6 roos team, and so it was particularly poignant for him to lead the might Bowral Black U8s out against his old side who were all now playing in the Roos U8s.
The obligatory handshakes were done and the referee then called the two opposing captains forward for the coin toss to work out who would do what when. Perhaps it was fortune smiling on him, but Angus’s call of “heads” came up, and he elected to kick the ball first. The two sides then dispersed across the paddock in preparation for kick off, and the Bowral boys fanned out into formation facing towards the southern end of the pitch.
The first half was a very tight affair, with the two sides scoring tries pretty much tit-for-tat over the 20 minutes of play, with Louie and Henry both going over for good tries cutting their way through the strong Manly defence. Manly managed an extra try just before half time putting them just ahead 3-2 at the break.
A novel difference for us with this game, compared to our normal Illawarra competition games, was the opportunity to take a punt kick for the conversion after the try. This really made quite a difference to the game, and in many ways much like the new goal posts we have implemented this year, gave the game a much more authentic feel. I certainly think we will investigate incorporating conversions (from either a punt, place, or drop kick) into our normal games going forward.
The first stanza of the second half continued on in much the same fashion as the previous period had done, with each side scoring reciprocal tries – one after the other. Louie went over again, after a dazzling run through a sea of blue jerseys, and mid-way through the final half, Angus also managed to find the line, after having broken out of a maul and then driving through a determined Roos defence to find the chalk.
But, the heat of the day, the pace of the game, the longer halves, and the relentless opposition took their toll, and Manly managed to string together a couple of soft tries against us that went unanswered in the final ten minutes to take out the match.
I was very proud of our team, and I thought that our players all did a tremendous job against a full strength opposition. We absolutely did our best and competed marvellously, often outplaying the Manly side for extended passages. I was also very grateful to the three young U7s lads for playing up in the U8s. Their participation allowed us to run a bench, and negated the need to draw upon the Manly squad for extra numbers. On top of that they also did a great job! And most importantly everyone had fun – which is after all the reason for playing the game in the first place!
I think the key takeaways for me from this game were around the impact our disrupted season has had in our skills development so far. We thought going into the game that the number of periods of prolonged wet weather, and the numerous ground closures we’ve endured due to the rain, would likely show out in this game. Unlike us, Manly have easy access a number of “all weather” surfaces to play and train on. And so, unfortunately, this was to be the case for our lads on this occasion.
It appeared to me that the Manly lads were more able to draw upon the extra training and game experiences that our lads have simply not had the benefit of to date. I thought that the Roos showed two key – and interrelated skills – in particular that stood out in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Firstly, their work in “clearing out” our lads at the break down was very good. We have only just really started looking at this aspect of “contact play” over the last few weeks before the holidays, and have only had one game to try to implement our “bulldozer” clear out technique.
The second key skill that the Roos demonstrated very well, was their strong “jackling” efforts at the tackle, where they were very focussed on stealing the ball from our ball tackled player on the ground. We were a little disjointed this week in implementing our “gorilla” technique for protecting the tackled player on the ground.
In the end, I think the difference between the two teams was pretty much down to just two or three occasions in the final 10 minutes, where we had the ball close to our try line and were trying to string another phase of play together. Our lack of match experience under those circumstances allowed the Manly players to push us off our tackled teammates on the ground, and then to steal the ball and score. We’ll look to work on that going forward now and we’ll be better for the lesson.
Some other key highlights of game this week included some great tackling across the board, and also our dogged determination to run down and close the gap to snaffle any opposition players that broke our line. There were any number of great try saving “scragging” tackles and shoves into touch by our lads. Our work in contact is improving and I’m sure when we are back to full strength with a few more training sessions under our belts, we will continue to show more and longer flashes of brilliance in this area!
Finally, my thanks to everyone who was able to make it up to manly for this game. When we first looked at dates in the roster, this weekend was down as a wet weather contingency weekend, and I didn’t realise it was actually school holidays until only a few weeks ago. So my apologies to all of those that had already made school holiday plans and could not as a result be in two places at once – I know you would have if you could have. We will definitely be more aware next year and will ensure the date is optimal for the greatest turn out.
On that point, I really have to commend and thank the Manly Roos club for making all of our players and parents feel so welcome on the day. These occasions are never easy to organise, and, as those who’ve been involved know, there is a great deal of behind the scenes activity that goes into making such a day turn into the great success that this one was. Their organisation was tremendous and we were treated magnificently. From the free barbeque to the printing and issuing of all of the players’ certificates, the Manly Roos coaches and managers went to great lengths to pull off a great day out.
A big vote of thanks to our Parent Liaison Matt White for his ongoing efforts over the last few weeks in communicating with everyone about this particular game. I greatly appreciate your tireless work for our team!
Many thanks also to the McMahon family for providing this weekend’s oranges and snakes, and for taking the jerseys for laundering as well.
As always thanks to our Team Managers Matt & Byron for all of their efforts in running the subs and managing all of our game day admin. Cheers guys!
Round 9: Bowral vs Campbelltown at Eridge Park – 12 July 15 (Time TBC)
L-R: Leio Bertolini, Angus Basham, Louie Kaufline, Hugh White, Henry McMahon, Hamish Wade
L-R: Hugh White, Louie Kaufline, Henry McMahon, Hamish Wade, Ari Knowles, Rory Basham, Charlie Fannin, Leio Bertolini, Angus Basham, with the Manly Roos U8s team.