Round 1 Team of the Week and Match Reports
Round 1 John I Dent Cup 2021 match report
First round of rugby for the year, a chance to finally burn off some of the nervous energy that had built since last season and our first real look at how we have come together as a unit. Kicking the season off with three debutants in our starting lineup, we were excited both in welcoming Apenisa Driti, Archer Holz and Noa Rabici to the club and to see how all three fit into the side Wayne and the coaching team are putting together for season 2021. Equally, we were happy to see Te Puia Luteru join the field as a substitute mid match to make his first grade debut appearance. Indeed, we are blessed with a strong bench and grateful to all the players who make themselves available as potential substitutes, particularly in the late stages of a game.
The Owls are again a formidable opposition and have again created a forward pack that is strong at set piece and disruptive at the breakdown. And while there were glimpses of the potential we will undoubtedly realise as the season unfolds, we let the Owls shift our focus from the way we wanted to play the game, into a pattern and tempo that better suited our opposition. We suffered a lop sided penalty count as a result of our poor discipline, and put ourselves under pressure in defence as we missed first up tackles (primarily because our tackle focus was too high or we were looking to strip the ball before the ball carrier had been brought down), and while it’s true the quality of some of the calls contributed to a growing sense of frustration across the team, we need to be more self-aware and make the on-field adjustments needed to take the officials out of the equation.
But with the Owls having been gifted the majority of possession, it speaks volumes of Royals capability and commitment to keep the final score line as close as it was when for periods of the first half we were down to thirteen players. James Bodman played a great game at fly half, steering the team around the park in attack and contributing significantly in defence. Pedro Rolando played his usual consistent and steadying game, nailing all but one of the shots at goal he was offered, and James Bundy played all three front row positions throughout the course of the game, put on some big hits in defence and generally put in a shift to be proud of. Other points of note came from Lincoln Smith, who showed he had what it takes to play in the back row if needed, pulling off a crucial steal early in the game that put us on the front foot, some line running brilliance from Ben Johnstone and Noa Rabici and a massive turnover generated by Ethan Rokoura and Connor Smith who managed to push the Owls back over ruck ball they thought they’d already secured. All moments the team capitalised on and resulting in the closing stages of the game being very exciting to watch.
Next week will be a bigger challenge with a couple of injuries to players in key positions. There were a lot of lessons to be learned from a game we let slip away from us in round 1. It’ll be interesting to see how well the team have learned these lessons and respond.
Round 1 2nd grade Match Report
A great start to the season for the boys coming away with a 35-0 victory over Uni. The energy was clearly there from the start, with plenty of energy building before the game. The first half was a close tussle, with both teams finding their feet. The forwards laid the platform with a clearly dominant scrum and some good go forward around the rucks. We kept grinding away with our structures which eventually led to a converted try to the skipper Tom Hallam. The second half saw the team settle much better into our game rhythm and be more patient with our opportunities. There was a lot more cohesion across the park that resulted in four further tries to Liam Shaw (2 tries), Ethan and TP. All were converted giving Sauce 5/5 and a 35-0 final scoreline, the nought being the most impressive part of our hard work in Defence. Points went to Ethan (3), Liam Davis (2) and Allan/Charlie (1). Congrats to our five Royals debutants, great start boys and bring on round 2.