Tackle, Counter Ruck, Win ball.
To set the stage, we were down some big bodies in David Horner, Joe Walker, Ben Veitch and Reilly Barker, not to mention some speed in Eli Gosher and Everett MacTavish and some of our scrum pushing power in Ethan Locke. So, with only 12 players we figured to have to run a bit and perhaps play a very technical game as Peterborough always has a big and tough squad. It was no different this year.
Unfortunately, they were missing even more players than us and only had 8 able to play thus ensuring a 'Win' were wins to matter in the Championship Division. Lucas Minovski and Cameron Morton were fantastic sportsman and agreed to be Peterborough Pagans for the first half of the game. and Luke De Luca in the second half. Once again, with many players missing and having to lend a couple we had a number of positions being filled by players never having played them before. Welcome to 2nd Row Owen Halloran and Cameron Sikich!
The Game didn’t start off the way we would have liked it with 3 quick tries by Peterborough and our own Lucas Minovski scoring one of them and playing a major part in another. We had a quick chat and the team settled down and we started to play the game the way we have been practicing. Our rucking was fantastic. Josh Henneberry was in almost every ruck and was in technically perfect body position in most of them ensuring they could not drive over. In any normal game with 15 players a side this would have been perfect since we committed 4 and 5 players to the ruck and won it but doing that with only 10 players on the field leaves our poor Scrum Half and Fly Half only one or two people to pass the ball too. However our players got out of the ruck fast and provided some great support. Ethan Callaway’s running was shifty and his offloading was well timed which really allowed us the opportunity to get the ball out to the wings. We were running the ball at much better angles today moving down the field more than across it and we often got the ball out to the wing very quickly. Had we been able to play with more players, they would have had a very difficult time containing us as their defence was essentially only their 3 big and fast players.
To add more difficulty for us, our big anchorman Brayden McGee went down early in the first half with a tweaked knee (we believe he is ok) and then suffered some heat exhaustion while being treated and it was decided it would be better for him to sit the rest out.
The score wasn’t going to matter as this was really just a friendly match given the fact that they had such short numbers. However I did try and recall our scoring. I may have missed someone so forgive me if so.
Brayden scored a try, Lucas Minovski scored one for them and one for us, Luke Avveduto touched one down and Rhys Patterson scored two tries via grubber kicks. One try was scored after an incredible run by Thomas Khajeh who essentially carried 5 of their players from the 22m to within a metre of the try line where he realized that he wasn’t going to make it so unselfishly he chose to go to deck and properly presented the ball for us to ruck and then score. Thomas’ running and improvement has been awesome to witness and today was no exception. I don’t know who ended up scoring that try but that was as much as a team try as I have ever seen. Ethan Callaway was 1 for 2 on conversions and our captain Rhys Patterson was 5 for 5 for 20 points on the day. They thought to have scored 49 points and I have us at 47. Heck of a comeback given the number of players we were missing and the fact we were missing Brayden for most of the game.
We made some mistakes sure but I cannot emphasize enough the heart these kids showed under such pressure. They responded to the mistakes when they were identified and you fixed them. Sahan Parsons and Thomas were stalwarts in the scrum until they had to change an injured prop and it changed to uncontested. We kept our chins up after such a tough start and came back with thunder and determination.
I have given Cameron Sikich her second Coaches Choice Player of the Match award in 2 games. It was hard not to. I stood with the Peterborough coaches and in front of the bleachers and for the entire game all I heard was “who is that girl?” “look at her tackle” “She just ran over our guy” etc. etc. etc. Cameron's play today was inspiring and it makes me proud to listen to people gush about her - including their coaches. Well done and Well deserved!
I am also awarding Luke Avveduto a Coaches Player of the Match award. His running angles were great and he started to recognize the right times to offload. He was a danger every time he got the ball and their coach was always cringing when we got it to him and he had space. Again, had we been playing 15 vs 15, the space you were creating would have allowed us to march down the field all game. Thank you and well done!