Dream Start to the Season for Resurgent Bulldogs!
By steven simpson
A Great result for U15's
It was a fine Sunday morning as we turned up at Houghton. Coming from a hard summer of preseason training the lads were looking to start the season with a bang. An epic trek to the pitches saw us faced with a strong looking Houghton. However, the fair weather gave Houghton little indication of the perfect storm that was to come…..
Houghton kicked off and Logan ably collected the ball and passed to Harvey. Houghton did well to turn over in the breakdown but Joel set his stall out early with a massive hit which let Thomas nab the ball back and make an impressive run until he was bundled into touch well into Houghton’s half. Houghton won the lineout, but more big hits from Christian and Zin Zan, let Thomas snatch back possession again and give it back to Zin Zan whose agile running drew in the defenders. He passed to Russell who accelerated to the try line just outside of the posts for the first try of the match! Dylan made the conversion look easy 7-0.
Our pack showed what they were made of and won a Houghton scrum after a fumbled catch. Logan ran up the wing barreling through the Houghton defence until he was tackled into touch. Houghton won their lineout, but some strong breakdown work from Cameron, Max and Harvey saw the ball turned over three times and forced a mistake from Houghton to give us a penalty for entering the ruck from the side. Dylan’s accurate kick to touch gained a line out in a dangerous position. In a move straight from the training ground, Reece delivered a laser accurate pass to Dylan, then Dylan to Thomas who ran forward, gaining ground, before he passed it back to Dylan who had crossed over and then flung it out to Zin Zan who was now in acres of space and ran it over for the second! Dylan again showed his composure to convert and make it 14-0.
Houghton didn’t take things lying down and after some toing and froing of possession Houghton’s no 11 broke through a couple of missed tackles down the wing to put one over right in the corner despite a heroic chase from Jake. A difficult angle in to the wind meant no conversion 14-5
The kickoff saw us give away a scrum, but Zin Zan turned over and some strong running from Leon and Cameron forced another error and gained us a penalty. Dylan again found touch well into tiger country, which allowed us to pile the pressure on. As Russell was making a final run for the line he was tackled and caught for holding on. The lads were in full flow by now and soon won back possession with some epic tackles and good breakdown work. Houghton’s defence were struggling with our strong ball carriers like Finn, Max and Christian and we were soon pushing for the try line with Leon, Harvey and Harley sucking defenders in. Eventually Dylan found a way through to score the third. He cooly converted his own try. 21-5
Billingham were well in control at this point, playing with discipline, aggression and intent and always looked like scoring another. Jake looked like he wanted it to be him after a massive run for glory ended in a forward pass to Reece. Careless breakdown work gave Houghton a penalty, but a poor kick gave us the ball once again and it flew through hands at pace to reach Russell who ran over the fourth try. The half time whistle blew after Dylan converted. 28-5
2cnd Half: ‘The next half is a new game’-Joel Smith
Ollie, James and Ethan came on for Max, Christian and Harvey for the second half. Any hopes of a come back from Houghton were quashed when Leon proved that forwards really can fly and ran more than half of the pitch to score in the corner. Dylan’s kick in to the wind fell just short. 33-5
After the kick off some heroic rucking from Cameron allowed Leon to turn over and smash his way through defenders and pass to Dylan who ran it over for his second try of the match. Another near miss made it 38-5
Ollie caught the kick off and smashed into contact. At this point Houghton looked thoroughly demoralized, having to absorb massive hits from Leon, Finn, Ethan and Harley as they picked and ran into defenders. Some careless breakdown work from both sides saw penalties given but after a quick penalty the ball flowed from Joel to Dylan to Zin Zan who ran it over for his second of the match. Dylan only just missed, hitting the post. 43-5.
Ollie proved his first catch was no fluke, but this time passed to Joel and the ball flew through hands to James who looked like he was relishing the contact. Strong breakdown work from a resilient Houghton won them a penalty and rare possession in our half. They were caught offside after a strong attack, allowing Russell to demonstrate his impressive acceleration when he ran almost the full length of the pitch only to put the ball down 5yards out from the line. Logan was there to collect and finish the job, but unfortunately dropped it over the line. No Try
Houghton won the scrum but massive tackles from Joel and Jake kept their fast looking 17 and 19 in check and forced the knock on. In a carbon copy of the move from the first half, Reece delivered a fast, accurate ball from the scrum to Dylan, then Thomas whilst Dylan crossed over to receive again and fling it to Zin Zan who ran it over in the corner for his Hat Trick! No conversion 48-5
Tentative talk of calling the game became less tentative when Logan caught the kick off and ran half the pitch handing off a last ditch attempt from a plucky Houghton defender to score Billingham’s 9th! No conversion 53-5
It’s at times like this when some teams really show what they’re made of. So it was with Houghton whose lads refused to lie down and started to fight back. Joel caught the kick off and passed to Harley who made a strong run, but legs were getting tired and he was left isolated. Houghton took full advantage and won the ball. After a bit of back and forth, Houghton made a strong attack at the far side of the pitch making us overcommit, then flung it out to the near side leaving Jake outnumbered 3 to 1. He hit the 19 but a perfectly timed pass earned Houghton a well worked consolation try. No conversion 53-10
Billingham didn’t appear fazed by a renewed Houghton and made several strong attacks, but Houghton defended well and the game ended with the score at 53-10
Coach Mick was unable to pick out a man of the match, a sentiment that few observers could disagree with. Every single player on the pitch played at a level above their norm, and all of them contributed massively to the win. There are still areas to work on, but hopefully this means that this team will only get stronger as the season progresses.
Well done Bulldogs!