So, the big day had arrived! This first Academy season was to be concluded with our U16’s playing Upminster U16 in the Essex 1 Cup Final at Thurrock RFC. A coach was kindly provided by the club to take the players, coaches & supporters to Thurrock and a large crowd was expected for this eagerly anticipated match.
The game got underway in cloudy & breezy conditions, with Basildon kicking to just outside the Upminster 22 and the pattern was set early, with both teams trying to establish their games but being met with fast, hard defence.
After initial good play from Basildon, Upminster started to profit from their pressure & moved play up to the Basildon 22 but after spinning the ball out wide, more strong pressure saw the ball spilled. Tayla C was first to react, scooping up the loose ball & sprinting away down the wing to open the scoring. An excellent conversion from out wide by Travis S & Basildon were 7-0 up with 10 mins played.
Anyone thinking that the Basildon boys would now settle & start to dominate were wrong. Play continued with lots of stoppages caused by individual mistakes, strong defence & one or two strange decisions by the referee. With the game fragmented, Basildon were unable to get into their stride & were being forced to live off scraps. Credit to Upminster who were clearly fired up for this game & the first half ended with no further scoring.
With the break used to regroup & talk through how they could improve, the 2nd half began with the weather deteriorating. The game soon settled back into the same pattern as before the break with Upminster thwarting every attempt by our boys to get some momentum. With the wind increasing, conditions became difficult & Upminster managed to put together a few decent phases culminating in a try in the 40th min. Successfully converted, the score was now 7-7.
Basildon re-started & chased down the kick well in an attempt to get going. Upminster tried to clear but good defence saw them going backwards & fantastic work by the loose forwards saw the ball turned over. The boys stepped on the gas & finally began to assert themselves on the game, going through several phases & making ground towards the Upminster try line but every time they got close, they were met with a very organised & determined defence, and were unable to get over the line.
In the 58th min & following a Basildon knock-on deep in the opposition 22, Upminster secured scrum ball & decided to run it out of the red zone. Strong running into space saw play over half-way & with the Basildon defence not set, Upminster were able to move the ball out wide & score their 2nd try of the game. Converted again & the sore was now 14-7 to Upminster.
Basildon re-started but uncharacteristic mistakes were beginning to have an affect on the boys. They continued to try & impose themselves but as with the first half, Upminster were determined in defence & forced mistakes. Again, Basildon had very little of the ball & so were unable to build any momentum & this pattern continued until the 68th min when another borderline decision went against us & Upminster were awarded a penalty in a central position & around 25m out. Already a converted try ahead & with very little time remaining, they unsurprisingly opted to kick for goal & despite the wind, the kick sailed over the posts & moved the score onto 17-7 to Upminster.
The game re-started & despite one last massive effort from the boys in green & white, Upminster managed to see out the remaining time with no further scoring.
Final score Upminster U16 17 – Basildon U16 7
Basildon RFC Academy U16’s: K. Tasker, G. Acraman, F. Wright, T. Mano, T. Singleton, R. King, S. Owers, T. Barnes, M. Fuller, T. Jones, F. Rix-Clancy, T. Purdy, O. Amran, T. Cox, G. Fouche, L. Batman, A. Samuels, O. Rogerson, M. Heath, A. Le Port, B. Higgins
And so, the season ends in slight disappointment, with the boys not doing themselves justice against a strong & determined opponent, but I’m sure you will all agree that this has been a hugely successful first season for the Basildon RFC Academy.
Thanks to the huge efforts of all involved, the boys have received high quality coaching & have had the opportunity to represent our club throughout the season. With the exception of the final game, the U16’s have completed the season unbeaten, have won their league & have truly put Basildon youth rugby back on the map! Tireless work in the background has resulted in older youth players returning to rugby at Basildon & the combined U17/U18 squad playing regularly again & reaching the Essex Waterfall Cup Plate Final. All of this has also enabled some players to experience senior rugby for the first time this season.
A huge thank you to all of the parents/carers for supporting the players & a big thanks to all of the players for your attendance at training, hard work & commitment to the Academy.
Finally, a massive thanks to all those members at Basildon RFC that have done so much to make the Academy happen and all of the following for your continued sponsorship:
A&B Taxis, Quill Construction, Delphi Derivatives, Spectrum, More Light Glass, Edison Motor, Instant Living Space, Beez Neez, Cymba & Greene King