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Aldeburgh v Harwich and Dovercourt 2

23rd September – Queen’s Field

Result: Aldeburgh 34 Harwich 0

A great start to the season

The sun shone, the sky was blue, the grass was green(ish) and Aldeburgh had more than a full squad. It had been seven months since our last home game but it was worth the wait. After initial, rather rusty, midfield tussles, Aldeburgh took total control.

Most of the first half hour was played between the 22s with neither side gaining an advantage. An early penalty by fly half, Ed Robson, gave Aldeburgh a slender lead. Harwich were trying to move the ball out to their backs, Aldeburgh were playing the short ball to their forwards to drive on. Neither side could string together enough phases to penetrate the opposite defence.

In the early scrums, Harwich showed clear superiority. In response, head coach, Paddy Allen, made a bold, early call, moving Chris Outten from No. 8 into the second row to give extra bulk to the pack and replacing lock, Peter Mann, by a flanker, Ollie Pick. The scrums were immediately stabilised. As the match went on Aldeburgh began to dominate. Peter Mann returned later in the front row, adding to the stability of the scrum as well as making his usual powerful contribution around the field.

The breakthrough came after half an hour when Damian Robertson, returning to rugby action in the second row, intercepted the ball deep in Aldeburgh’s half. The forwards interchanged superbly with surging runs by Elliot Clarke-Gifford, Toby Mann and James Lynch taking the ball deep into Harwich’s half. A series of rucks led to a penalty which scrum half, Jed Gallant, as lively as ever, took quickly. The forwards took the ball on again until Toby Mann went over for the season’s first try.

Aldeburgh were soon back in the Harwich 22, beginning to look dominant. A tap penalty to the forwards again maintained the momentum. It was taken on by prop, Matt Elias, who was stopped just short of the line. James Cook, another long serving player returning to the game after a break, picked up and drove over. Playing now in the back row rather than in previous seasons at fly half, James made an incisive break later in the game reminiscent of the old days.

Towards the end of the first half, flanker, Charlie Blakeley, made the first of the powerful runs which earned him the man of the match award as Aldeburgh continued to exert pressure. Despite the small altercation that followed, the match was played in the usual good spirit of community rugby.

Taking a 15-0 lead into the second half, Aldeburgh pushed Harwich back at a couple of scrums. Ed Robson side stepped to make ground, the big forwards, Chris Outten and Charlie Blakeley, ran purposefully until, after just ten minutes, Charlie picked up from a wheeled scrum on the 22, brushing aside the Harwich defence to score under the posts. Ed slotted his second conversion.

Harwich continued to press occasionally but most of the match was now being played in their half. A line out steal by Aldeburgh was tidied up by the forwards before being spun out to Callum Goodwin at outside centre who made a great run before linking back up with the forwards. The props then combined with Peter Mann giving the final pass to Matt Elias to dot down.

With only 15 minutes of the second half gone and trailing by 27-0, it would not have been surprising if Harwich had lost heart. In fact, they remained competitive, conceding only one more try. Their winger (No 14 with the scrum cap) was the most dangerous runner on the pitch, posing a constant threat whenever he got the ball. Full back, Stephen Anker, wing, Adam Hateley, and Jed Gallant all made fine tackles to restrain him when it looked as though he could get Harwich onto the scoreboard.

Another factor in restraining the score was that, after warning Aldeburgh for making high tackles, the referee decided that there had been one too many so issued a yellow card to debutant winger, Fred Precious. There was some doubt as to whether Fred had made the tackle in question and many spectators (including your correspondent) were not even aware that a yellow card had been issued. A slightly strange passage of play. There was no score during the ten minutes that Harwich had numerical superiority.

There was only five minutes left when Ed Robson threw a dummy to break through, then passed to Callum Goodwin for him to surge over. Ed got his third conversion to add to his penalty, making the final score 34-0.

A great start to the season for Aldeburgh. Tough on Harwich who fought hard right to the end.

Next match:

Saturday 30th September: Away to Colchester 4

Next home match:

Saturday 21st October v Woodbridge 2


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