The squad met together at Bodmin RFC at 1130. A quick ‘getting to know you’ session and two and a half hours later kick off followed v Cornwall Under 17s.
The tempo was set from the off with number 8 Jordan Gray (Hampshire Collegiate) catching Joe Thomas’ (Hartpury) kick, allowing good ground and quick ball to be gained – very much the aim of the day. From turnover ball good carries and offloads resulted in centre Charlie Bolton (Wycliffe) crossing in the left corner after three minutes.
The scrummaging from Cornwall was excellent as expected, particularly on the Lambs put in, resulting in stolen or disrupted ball. Defence was also a facet of the game that the young Cornish team placed great emphasis upon, making scoring opportunities difficult.
The game ebbed and flowed but a catch and drive off Ed Grinsted (KES Southampton) led to his second row partner, Alec Hampden-Smith (Mount Kelly) crossing for five before an excellent conversion form Will Goodwin (Wycliffe) wide on the left after 23 minutes.
A scrum on halfway brought about a touchline to touchline passage of play, more hands back in field and one ruck later, Gray picked a strong inside line to take the ball off Ben Clarke (Wycliffe) at 9, before powering outside the guards and going under the posts; Goodwin again adding two, leaving the halftime score as 19-0. The commitment and determination of the Black and Ambers was evident throughout and with a strong set piece and a busy scrum half there was no point that the Lambs team could be complacent irrespective of the score.
The Lambs team underwent eight changes at the break and the disjointed and earnest nature of their play was a feature for the opening period of the second half. Good phase play and handling, particularly from the two props Charlie Bannister (Canford) and Dan Ali (Cheltenham) put outside half Thomas under the sticks; he subsequently converted his own try.
Cornwall to a man continued to ask serious questions of the Lambs team, going to a no-contest defence at rucks. A scrum against the head on halfway allowed Hallam Chapman (West Buckland) to carry the ball, and the opposition Scrum Half, from the base, good selfless running from the centres gave Henry Gliddon (Taunton) the chance to stretch his legs from Full Back rounding two defenders and scoring centrally; Goodwin again added the extras.
Devon Brown (Plymouth College) was starting to regularly win against the feed at scrum time and Chapman again carried from the base offloading to Goodwin on halfway; the wing made easy work of beating the cover for his try.
On 28 minutes a turnover at a ruck resulted in excellent interlinking between forwards and backs across the whole width of the pitch and saw wing Panda Roberts (West Buckland) score on the left. Cornwall, desperate for territory to launch an attack kicked and the ensuing ruck led to Nick Evans (West Buckland) acting as scrum half; his pass and support line saw him receive the return pass to go over the line with Goodwin again adding to the total.
At the death, after another passage of excellent interplay, Roberts was given the chance to run, showing good balance and footwork, he went over for the final try which led to Goodwin’s final conversion.
There was much to please the crowd and the exemplary attitude of both teams was epitomised in the chats and congratulations post-match. A huge thanks must go to the players and coaches of the Cornwall side for their superb commitment and spirit. Special thanks to Nigel Spencer for arranging the game and being such a fastidious organiser, and Mr Bodmin himself, Dave Saunter, who refereed, hosted and made everyone feel so welcome. We look forward to renewing acquaintances again next year.
Full Time: Cornwall U17s 0-57 ISRFC Lambs South West
Elsewhere, the North Lambs lost a tight game against Woodhouse Grove 26-24 on their excellent 4G pitch, a useful addition given the torrid conditions in the area. Unfortunately the Midlands and South East games were postponed as their respective opponents each had Cup commitments.
The next stage for the Lambs are the regional games, North v Midlands and South East v South West, on Sunday 10th January. Until then, a very Merry Christmas!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhOLMckrOBA – first half (Bolton, Hampden-Smith, Gray tries)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIt9OgsXqhQ – opening of second half
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aRtHevR1GM – second half 3-11 minutes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUjU2nfSZko – second half 11-12 minutes (Thomas try)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PyJ6WRPOMs – second half 12-35 minutes (Gliddon, Goodwin, Roberts, Evans, Roberts tries)