Aldeburgh v Mistley 2s

5th February – at Queen’s Field

Result: Aldeburgh 17 Mistley 42

Good effort, frustrating game

After beating Mistley away earlier in the season, Aldeburgh’s developing squad had reason to be optimistic for this game. However, Mistley brought two or three players who were not just an improvement on their previous team but a class above. They made all the difference.

Aldeburgh made a bright start using their trademark forward drives with James Ledger and Jon Hunt leading the way. Within a few minutes, Mistley responded with forward drives of their own. A penalty was kicked deep into the corner. A good line out and drive took them over the line but they were held up. The subsequent drop out from the try line was knocked on but Mistley showed their dominance at the scrum from which their fly half stepped inside. The pack came in to support and drove over under the posts for the first score which was converted.

The next 15 minutes was give and take with Aldeburgh increasingly gaining an advantage by moving the ball wider. Scrum half, Jed Gallant, made a superb break. While Mistley retained their dominance in the scrum, the Aldeburgh pack held them enough to get usable ball. Indeed, the move which led to Aldeburgh’s first try began with a pick up from the base of a scrum by Lewis Wardell Bird, who had another splendid game in the back row. Good linking play got the ball to Adam Hateley, playing in the centre this week, who finished well. Ed Robson’s conversion was a superb effort against the wind but it was too strong for him. 5-7 after 20 minutes. Game on.

At this stage, one of Mistley’s outstanding players, having picked up the ball on the wing, simply powered his way through several attempted tackles to score a fine try. Their kicker had an exceptional afternoon by kicking all the conversions despite the difficult conditions in such a strong, blustery wind. Soon afterwards, the strength of Mistley’s running was again too much giving them a 5-21 lead.

Against the run of play, the last ten minutes of the first half belonged totally to Aldeburgh as a result of keeping the ball moving wide. They showed their versatility when the ball came to Jon Hunt, second row, in the outside centre channel who sidestepped so outrageously that he sent the whole of Mistley’s back line the wrong way and opened up a gap for him to run through and beat the covering defence to the line. Somehow, Ed Robson converted into the wind.

More strong runs, this time featuring Johnny Martin, having another good game in the back row, and expansive back moves gave Danny Collett, centre, enough space to drive over. 17-21 at half time with Aldeburgh having the momentum.

Mistley made a strong start to the second half, bringing their powerful runners into play. However, the game changed its complexion after four minutes when Aldeburgh’s winger, Toby Keane, was injured. There was a ten minute delay until he was helped to walk, very gingerly, from the pitch. Not having any subs available, for the remainder of the game Aldeburgh were a man short. From a scrum after the restart, Mistley went over for another converted try and a few minutes later, their No 15 ran unstoppably from half way to make the score 17-35 with twenty minutes to go.

Aldeburgh’s defence was heroic for the rest of the game. Another injury (a bang on the head for Robert Poll, full back) took them down to 13 but Mistley sacrificed a player so that there was still only a one man advantage. It was only in the final few minutes that, after some scrappy play, Mistley managed to score one more try. Final score: 17-42

Despite Mistley having a few outstanding players, Aldeburgh showed towards the end of the first half that they could compete. It was going to be tough but once they were at a numerical disadvantage, it became a rearguard action. As always, they showed guts and determination to keep battling until the end.

It was good to see that, despite the bitter wind, a good crowd of VPs turned out to support the team.

Aldeburgh v Colchester 5s

5th March – at Queen’s Field

Result: Aldeburgh 57 Colchester 10

Splendid way to end the season at home

This match demonstrated what we have suspected all season, that when Aldeburgh field a full squad they can more than hold their own with any team in this division. In the corresponding away fixture, Aldeburgh had been short of big forwards which had enabled Colchester to use their strength to drive through.

On Saturday, with a bigger, stronger Aldeburgh pack than previously, the big Colchester forwards were checked, allowing Aldeburgh’s running game to triumph.

The first try, scored by Aldeburgh after just 5 minutes, didn’t fit this narrative because Freddie Burgess, playing hooker, simply powered through the opposition tackles. Ed Robson converted.

Colchester dominated the set scrums (despite having a tight head prop aged 74, yes, seventy four) to the extent of gaining a penalty at the first scrum but they were not able to turn it into a points advantage. It did keep them in Aldeburgh’s half where their strong pack was able to apply continuous pressure for a while but Aldeburgh’s tackling and overall defence was resolute.

After 17 minutes, an excellent turnover gave quick ball to Jon Hunt, No 8, who, to add to his sidestep last week, threw a dummy this week, enabling him to make 20 metres before getting the ball to Tom Ridgeon (on the wing in his last match before moving away from the area) who made a further strong run. The ball eventually came to second row, Jarvis Levett, who powered over.

Although Aldeburgh were on top, Colchester’s strength and experience kept them in touch. As well as struggling to hold the set scrums, Aldeburgh were not winning any line outs until, on 26 minutes, Freddie threw a short ball to James Ledger, prop, at the front of the line who made straight for the try line from 20 metres out. No-one was going to stop him.

In the dying moments of the first half, Aldeburgh scored a couple of outstanding tries.

Turn over ball came to James Ledger who sold a dummy then made a storming run for 30 metres breaking several tackles. When he was brought down, the ball was quickly recycled to Jarvis Levett who got his second try. Having missed a couple of difficult conversions, Ed slotted this one for a 24-0 lead.

Two minutes later, from broken play just in the Aldeburgh half, the ball came to Freddie whose forward run positioned him with only the full back to beat. He signalled to his support player to be ready for the inside pass, dummied it and carried on to score under the posts with a Chris Ashtonesque swallow dive. Ed converted for an outstanding half time score of 31-0.

The second half continued in the same vein with Colchester holding their own to apply constant pressure until Aldeburgh broke away to score. After 10 minutes, from a turn over deep within the Aldeburgh half, Jed Gallant, having yet another reliable game at scrum half, put in a deep kick down the middle which was dropped. Aldeburgh’s chase was good, the ball was recovered and the final pass was to full back Stephen Anker. Ed kicked a conversion from wide.

A few minutes later, Ed made sure to make the conversion easier for himself by scoring under the posts from Tom Ridgeon’s pass. It didn’t work. He hit the post.

During the second half, there were multiple changes of personnel as the subs were given their chance, with changes of position and changes of loan players to Colchester (who had travelled to fulfil the fixture even though they were a player short).

The versatile Freddie may have by now been playing in the centre (where he definitely featured before the end) when he straightened up the running line. Quick ball was moved through the backs. Ed took an intelligent line to create space for Rupert Clogg on the wing who put in one of his elusive runs to score in the corner. Ed then converted from the touchline taking the score to 50-0.

Colchester’s persistence was finally rewarded after 20 minutes when they got the ball to their big No 13 who had enough space to get over in the corner. The try was not converted.

Colchester managed one more try from sheer forward pressure but Aldeburgh pursued their running game. A flowing back move came back into the forwards, Jon Hunt sold another dummy and went over under the posts. Ed converted giving him an impressive record on the day of 6 conversions out of 9 attempts.

The commitment and energy of both teams ensured an entertaining game for the good crowd of spectators, many of whom had enjoyed the VP lunch beforehand.

Clacton 2s v Aldeburgh

19th March – at Clacton

Result: Clacton 46 Aldeburgh 5

A tough game to finish with

In bright sunshine, Aldeburgh finished their league season against a tough, strong Clacton side who simply proved too powerful.

The game was characterised by the strong running of the Clacton players, in particular their No. 8 and one of their second row, resulting in several missed tackles by Aldeburgh (an uncommon sight this season) and a regular succession of tries.

The first came after ten minutes with a break round the blind side of a scrum. A similar try followed after another ten minutes. On the half hour mark, the Clacton backs began to move the ball wide, breaking tackles and maintaining continuity to score under the posts. They repeated their success a few minutes later before their big No 4 powered over just before half time. 31-0 at the interval.

Aldeburgh continued to scrap, holding Clacton out for the first period of the second half. However, injuries began to take their toll. With only one sub, the second injury left Aldeburgh at a numerical disadvantage for the rest of the game.

With Jed Gallant unavailable, Ed Robson played out of position at scrum half. Adam Hateley took on the fly half role with his usual commitment, fearless tackling and powerful running. While both gave it their all, it highlighted how much of a contribution the half back pairing of Jed and Ed has made to Aldeburgh’s play this season. When Ed was injured, Jon Hunt stood in at scrum half.

Despite the injuries, the Aldeburgh pack held its own, even pushing Clacton back in a scrum 5 metres out from which Jon picked up and powered over for Aldeburgh’s only try.

Spirited defence restricted Clacton to three tries in the second half, one by the big No 8 and two from flowing back moves.

A highlight of the game was the performance of Brandon Russell at centre in his second game for the club. Strong in both attack and defence, he will be an asset. Well done to Adam Hateley for recruiting so many good players this season.

Most of the players came back to the clubhouse for an enjoyable (apart from the result) evening watching the England v France match.