U16's storm into Essex Cup semi-finals
By Rich Einchcomb
Academy U16's continue winning run with impressive victory
A rather blustery & chilly morning saw the Academy U16’s match-day squad of 18 travel to a large & strong looking Westcliff U16’s, for this eagerly anticipated Essex Waterfall Cup quarter-final. With the toss won, Basildon elected to play into the wind and the game got underway with the Westcliff kick deep into the Basildon 22.
Safely gathered by Kyan T and with the Westcliff chasers closing, the ball was moved quickly along the line to Taylor B who carried hard & over the gain-line. The ball was secured well and again ground was made following good work by the forwards. This pattern continued and with a ferocious battle already developing at the breakdown, Basildon were awarded a penalty around half-way. Tom J kicked for touch in the corner but with the ball held up in the wind, the Westcliff defenders were able to re-gather possession and immediately looked to counter & clear. Tayla C was having none of it though and promptly dumped the Westcliff ball carrier into touch on the 10m line.
The lineout ball was secured & quickly moved off the top & through the hands to find Taylor P running a great line & with great footwork & powerful running, broke several tackles to score the game’s first try under the posts. Successfully converted by Travis S & with just 8 mins gone, Basildon deservedly lead 7-0.
With the deep Westcliff restart cleanly caught by Tayla C, the boys in green & white set about continuing their solid start and fantastic pace & footwork by Tayla C, supported by Sean O saw play moved up to around half-way. Once again, fast accurate movement of the ball and great communication resulted in the ball with Taylor P running hard up the 12 channel and scoring another very well worked team try in the 13th min. Conversion missed, 12-0 to Basildon.
With smart rugby being played in the right areas & hard, fast defence when not in possession, Basildon were in control but surely Westcliff would react? Well, following raised voices under the posts, react they did! Suddenly the home side’s defensive line was running harder & their tackling & break-down work became more intense. This resulted in possession being used more effectively & now Westcliff were making ground. Excellent counter-rucking in the 18th min saw the home side turn over the ball & move it quickly to their big powerful centre who, with the Basildon defence unable to react quickly enough, stormed through to score the home side’s first points. Conversion missed, score now 12-5 to Basildon.
The game restarted and with confidence returning, Westcliff now had their tails up. For the next 5 minutes or so, both teams continued to play hard, fast, accurate rugby in an attempt to get on top. One or two gaps started to appear in the Basildon lines and the increasing pressure saw discipline slip slightly, resulting in a number penalties awarded against them. From one such penalty in the 25th min, Westcliff kicked for touch deep into the Basildon 22. With lineout ball secured, the big Westcliff pack rumbled the ball inside & up close to the try line. With Basildon knocking on in the tackle and with ball secured from the scrum, the home team somehow managed to create & score their 2nd try. The conversion was missed again, taking the score to 12-10 to Basildon.
Now we had a game on! How would the boys deal with the Westcliff comeback? We would soon find out.
Basildon restarted play and with ball safely pouched, Westcliff now started to show why they are considered one of the top teams at this age group. Their forwards were now punching holes & hitting rucks with extra intensity and with their fly-half pulling the strings, the home side were looking dangerous. Basildon continued to defend with equal intensity and with excellent line speed & tackling from Tom J, Matt F & the back rowers Rhys K & Finley R-C, were able to repel Westcliff & deny any opportunity to score. A number of knock-on’s saw play broken up regularly & from a scrum in the 34th min, the visitors were able to apply pressure to the host’s line. Despite the scrum going backwards (again!), quick ball came from Matt F who switched play to the blind-side and although held up briefly, Sean O picked up, carried hard & found Tom J in support. Covering defenders evaded & Tom crossed for the try. The conversion was missed & a tricky first half playing into the wind finished with the score at 17-10 to Basildon.
The 2nd half got underway & Basildon were immediately swarming over their hosts, forcing them backwards. With pressure applied across the line, play again became scrappy with wayward passing & in the 38th min, Westcliff attempted a clearing kick towards space on the near side. Caught on the wind, the ball failed to reach touch & instead blew in-field & bounced kindly to the on-rushing Tayla C who stepped inside & finished with ease. A superb conversion from wide out by Travis S saw the score to 24-10 to Basildon.
The visitors now felt that they were in control of this game and with confidence flowing, started to move the ball around nicely however like all good sides, Westcliff responded again. Following a knock-on in the 42nd min around half-way, the hosts’ dominant scrum secured quick ball which was swiftly moved through the hands & out to the winger who powered up the line & scored the home team’s 3rd try of the match in the corner. Conversion missed, score now 24-15 to Basildon.
Westcliff sensed a way back into the game but stung by the last score, the boys in green & white had other ideas! With the restart kick returned deep into Basildon territory, the home side attempted to make ground but in the 44th min were once again forced to knock-on by strong defensive pressure around Basildon’s 22. With scrum ball secured, it was played back to Tom J who aided by the wind, sent his clearing kick long, high & deep into the Westcliff 22. Chasing hard as usual, Tayla C managed to regain & keep possession & with support arriving fast, off-loaded the ball to Finley R-C who drove over to score close to the corner. Another difficult conversion despatched by Travis S, score 31-15.
The game restarted & with the wind becoming more & more of a factor, settled into a period of untidy play, punctuated with regular stoppages by the referee. Loose passes, knock-ons & kicks out on the full became the theme for next 10 mins or so. In the 56th min & following more smart territorial play, Basildon were awarded a scrum around 15m out & to the left of the posts. Once again the visitors pack went backwards but were able to retain possession & Taylor B picked up & drove for the line. The tackles flew in & the ball was turned over but Westcliff then knocked-on & from the resulting scrum, Taylor B tried again but this time off-loading to the supporting Sean O. 5m out & running hard & direct, there was no stopping Sean crossing for Basildon’s 6th try of the game. Conversion missed, score now 36-15.
Facing this rampant Basildon team in full flow & well behind on the score board, you would expect a few Westcliff heads to drop but to their credit, they restarted & threw everything they had at their visitors for the next 10 mins. With the hosts trying everything to get back into the game, Basildon found themselves defending in the red zone.
At around the 64 min mark, excellent counter-rucking saw Rhys K regain possession, allowing Matt F to play the ball back to Tom J to clear up to half-way. Westcliff secured the line-out ball but pressure from the visitors once again forced them backwards. Spotting space up the blind-side, the home side decide to switch play and attempt to run the ball up the touchline but as he had been all game, there was Tayla C to wrap up the ball carrier & drive him into touch. From the line-out, Basildon set the maul & managed to drive up to within 5m of the Westcliff try line. Good defence briefly halted the drive, but with the ball available at the back, Matt F fed Tom J running hard & Tom cut through to score his 2nd try of the game near the corner. Another superb conversion from near the touch line by Travis S and Basildon now lead 43-15.
Westcliff restart with a deep kick into the Basildon 22 but a clean catch & off-load to Tom J & the ball is despatched back into the Westcliff half. The final 5 mins is all about game management & the visitors maintain their excellent work rate to deny the home side any kind of opportunity. Smart decisions sees the final moments of the game played out in the Westcliff half & with no further scoring, the game ends with a final score of: Westcliff 15 Basildon 43.
The most complete performance so far from this talented squad. A very good result against top quality opposition.
Thanks to our hosts at Westcliff RFC & a special mention for the referee Steve, who managed the game fairly & honestly despite the constant instructions from the side-lines (everyone’s a ref eh?!).
Basildon RFC Academy U16’s: K. Tasker, S. Owers, M. Heath, T. Mano, T. Singleton, R. King, F. Rix-Clancy, T. Barnes, M. Fuller, T. Jones, A. Le Port, T. Purdy, O. Amran, T. Cox, G. Fouche, L. Batman, O. Rogerson, A. Samuels
Finally, massive thanks to the following for your continued support of the Academy:
A&B Taxis, Quill Construction, Delphi Derivatives, Spectrum, More Light Glass, Edison Motor, Instant Living Space, Beez Neez, Cymba & Greene King, and various club members at Basildon RFC.