Usk RFC was the venue for a hard fought game between the Independent Schools RFC ‘Lambs’ and Crawshay’s Welsh, an invitational Welsh side formed in 1922 who select from the Welsh schools and colleges.
Despite the extremely poor condition of the pitch in South Wales the fixture, now in its 10th season, showcased some excellent rugby as always. A scan of the pitch or conditions pre or post game would have left it hard to imagine and end-to-end game with eight tries scored, however that is exactly what the crowd were treated to.
The game started with Crawshay’s very heavyweight pack giving them front-foot ball, allowing outside center Will Hooley, who was named the Welsh sides man of the match both this season and last, to crash over in the early stages. Hooley then added a conversion for their second try after the ball went loose on the Lambs line and the Welsh were quickest to pounce. At 0 -12 down the Lambs had to produce something special, which they did. A back row move left ended up in the hands of Lambs Man of the Match Milo Linney (Uppingham) who scored in the left hand corner.
However, with 5 minutes until half time disaster struck for the team in pink as the Crawshay’s left wing took advantage of two mistakes to add 12 points on top of another Hooley penalty. At 5 – 27 down it was vital that the Lambs scored next and before half time, a job that captain Matt Harris (Berkhamsted) took on. After a break from hooker Tommie Collingwood (Denstone) some good interplay saw Harris dive over on the stroke of half time to keep the game in reach: 12 – 27.
The second half saw a raft of changes and the Lambs had the majority of possession and opportunities. It took just 10 minutes to get their just rewards and a great team try saw the ball move the width of the pitch four times before replacement hooker Charlie Agbo (King’s College Taunton) scored in the corner (17 – 27). A number of spurned opportunities meant the game stayed at arms length for the Lambs, and the Crawshays capitalized on another mistake to take the lead to 17 – 34 with 15 minutes left. Despite more opportunities against a tiring Welsh side, including half breaks and clean breaks, the final pass just never seemed to stick and the score remained the same at full time.
The game truly could have gone either way, the pitch was a real leveler and the Welsh Invitational sides extra weight and capitalism on the Lambs mistakes, who were playing only their second game of the season, were the difference. However, both sides must be commended on their ability to play quality rugby in difficult conditions and score some excellent free-flowing tries.
Speaking after the game, Lambs National Director Alex Laybourne said:
“It was a great contest as this game always is. The Lambs boys are disappointed in the result but are rightly proud of their performance, this was a very different experience to what many of them have had before and they adapted and contested well. It is only our second game and things have already started to click, their ability to play fast and free in these conditions are signs for some exciting times to come this season and we are looking forward to taking on Yorkshire next Sunday at Wisbech Grammar School.“
Full Time: Crawshay’s Welsh 34-17 ISRFC Lambs
|ISRFC Lambs XV|
|2||Tommie Collingwood||Denstone College|
|5||Ben Waddington||Woodhouse Grove|
|6||Louis Fraser||Woodhouse Grove|
|7||Cedric Hoskyns-Abrahall||Royal Hospital School|
|8||Matt Harris (c)||Berkhamsted|
|10||Tom Pittman||King’s College, Taunton|
|14||Joshua Hart||Denstone College|
|15||Henry Wright||Queen Ethelburga’s|
|16||Alexander Zenda||Pangbourne College|
|17||Charlie Agbo||King’s College, Taunton|
|20||Guy Whittaker||Hymers College|
|22||Tobias Allday||Royal Hospital School|
|24||George Finney||Trent College|