ERFC Colts out of U18 Colts Plate

Nuneaton Colts 18 - 7 Evesham Colts

Last Updated: Jan 15, 2014 09:55am
Evesham, Wychavon
By Ben Salcedo
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Dogged Evesham knocked-out of Under 18 National Colts Plate Competition

Evesham were knocked-out of the Under 18 National Colts Plate Completion following a visit to Nuneaton.

The game was due to be played at Evesham but, with water-logged pitches at the Avon-side club, the fixture was reversed. Evesham put in a dogged performance with 110% commitment but, with eleven squad players unavailable, they were missing too many key players to really challenge for the game. Nuneaton’s domination of the set-pieces gave them the upper-hand and ultimately the victory 18-7.

Evesham are notorious slow-starters but for once they started on the front-foot and had control of the game for the first 15 minutes. They were helped by several Nuneaton mistakes made under pressure, the first resulting in a penalty attempt narrowly missed by Mike Harris. Evesham looked formidable in midfield with both centres Ash Icke and Wilf Watson making good ground with powerful running. Flanker Ady Cook nearly turned one such run into a score, he was held-up over the line after picking and driving when Watson was tackled a few metres out. However Evesham reaped their reward from the following scrum, clean ball enabled Harris to put Icke in space who burst through the defence to score. Harris made the conversion for a 0-7 lead, but Evesham never quite found the same level of quality again. Instead Nuneaton settled and grew in confidence, they had a distinct advantage in the scrum, but it was in the lineout where they impressed the most. This allowed them to wrestle back control of the game but not without a fight. It was several minutes before they found the try-line as Evesham’s defence was resolute. Forwards Martin Di Franco, Nat Bailey, Alex Stoddart, Fred Hopper and Cook all executed good tackles. In the backs Watson and Josh Perry both made try-saving tackles and Icke was a solid wall. Eventually the home-side capitalised on the pressure they created, unsurprisingly through a lineout. From five metres out they caught, set and mauled the ball over the line despite Perry’s valiant attempt to get under the ball. The conversion was missed but followed-up with a penalty kick as Evesham were caught offside in their eagerness to put pressure on the ball. Nuneaton led 8-7 at the break, with Harris just missing a long-range penalty on the stroke of half-time.

The home side used the same tactic early in the second-half to extend their lead, with another lineout successfully mauled over the line. The conversion was missed as Evesham then suffered the loss of their Captain, Stoddart, to injury and, with a dearth of substitutes, were forced to play players out of position. Fred Hopper and Kieron Nicholls played at No.8 and Flanker respectively for the first time, both did well, but the team seemed to tire. Nuneaton took advantage and scored a third unconverted try. The visitors could easily have capitulated at this point but to their credit they dug deep. Icke and Watson continued to make ground when they got possession. The ever-present Cook again nearly profited, this time driving-on following a run by Icke, but again he was held-up over the line. Nuneaton’s defence though was good enough to keep Evesham at bay, particular at the breakdown where they won several turnovers. They played a territorial game towards the end, frequently kicking the ball over the top. The versatile Josh Perry again proved his worth to the team, filling-in at full-back for the first time this season, he tided everything up without mistake, but often under pressure, to earn the Man-of-the-Match award. Scott Fairfax supported him well on the wing and showed he has improved under the high ball. Hopper continued to impress in defence and arguably had the highest tackle count of anybody alongside Cook. Harris kicked well all game at fly-half but didn’t have enough quality ball going forward to allow the backs to really get into the game which, on the day, was probably the only way Evesham could have countered Nuneaton’s superior control up-front.
The only mar on this very competitive plate-tie was that tempers frayed towards the end. Nuneaton lost a player to the sin-bin a few minutes from time and Evesham had a player red-carded on the stroke of full-time. Evesham can now concentrate on the North Midlands Under 19 Colts League and Cup competitions, starting with a visit to Bromsgrove in the first round of the Cup on 19th January.



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