Maidstone RFC Under 13s vs Thanet Wanderers Under 13s

By Matthew Hickmott

 

Today we travelled to the county town of Maidstone. Hot on the heels of England’s win against South Africa yesterday the Under 13s were looking to continue their undefeated start to the season against a new team to us this year.

Having travelled with virtually all the squad except Owen Evens who is recovering from an injury, we had 22 young Wanderers ready and eager to do the club proud. The weather was perfect and with a great pitch to play on all was set for a great game.

The boys were given their instructions and then the specific game plans we wanted to see come out from training and individual tasks to achieve. The team was captained by Theo Rowe who has demonstrated good leadership around the boys and some excellent skills on the pitch.

From the kick off, Wanderers continued their good recent form and immediately dominated Maidstone showing extra desire for the ball and the try line. Within the first minute we took the lead through the team winning the ball, and Henry Carruthers going direct for the line, score 0-5. We continued to keep the ball or win it back quickly when out of possession and after neat play from Myles Wise, Shaheer Khan, and Henry Mason we released Carruthers again for his second try, 0-10. With 10 minutes gone Vinnie Perkins made some strong tackles along with Jack Brewer and after some great team quick passing, Carruthers had his hat trick, 0-15.

The team were so hungry for the ball today, and everyone was trying to do the right thing at the right time, most of the time! Perkins picked the ball up and went straight for the line from a fair distance out. Maidstone tried in vane to stop him as he made a powerful run and got his name on the score sheet, 0-20. There was further good work from Owen Read and Gil Smith, who both worked tirelessly for the team. In the 15th minute Toby Hunt picked the ball up and powered to the line, 0-25. Wanderers weren’t done yet this half, Harvey Stocker picked the ball up in his own half and went on a run past 6 or 7 Maidstone players and was unlucky not to make it round the last defender, a great run!

Perkins got on the score sheet again in the 18th minute to extend the lead to, 0-30. Not long before the half ended we gained further tries, first Oscar Andrews picked the ball up from good work by Charlie Pantelli and Zac Ralph  which resulted in Andrews scoring our 7th try and soon after Oscar Bradley and Smith’s hard work paid off when they released Ollie Jordan-Smith who still had a lot to do but with quick feet and a great dummy got to the line to put us up 0-40 at half time.

We spoke to the boys at half time and asked them to treat the second half as a fresh one and play as if the scores were equal. We wanted the boys to stick to the plan and not ‘showboat’ and to their credit they were very focused.

 

Changes were made to the team and most players got the same game time, but some were asked to play in unfamiliar positions, to give them a better understanding of what is involved and for us to see how they fitted in a new role.

The second half started with Finley Hickmott, Fred O’Halloran and Harry Kirkpatrick introduced on the field. The team was immediately back into game mode, and made a good strong start ending with Pantelli picking the ball up and getting his first try of the game with some excellent individual play, 0-45.

Max Anderson was having a strong game, very dominant and carrying the ball  well. In the 2nd minute of the half Hunt broke away again to score his second try. Soon after, the team were back on the attack and some good play with the whole team involved was finished off well by Kirkpatrick to put us 0-55 up.

The team throughout were keeping their shape and getting up quickly to win the ball back, Maidstone were sticking to their coaches advice and grew into the game.

Wanderers scored two quick tries when Hunt completed his hat trick and shortly after, Pantelli got his second with further great quick skills and the team now led, 0-65.

The team were moving the ball quickly through all players and everyone was playing their part. In the 9th Minute Bradley was released down the wing to score after excellent play by Josh Matteson. This was Bradley’s first try since returning from the dark side of…football.

The next try went to Ralph and what a run to the line this was as he jinked this way, that way and through so many players for a well deserved score and the team’s 15th try.

The boys were still hungry for more and following good movement and good passing from Pantelli and a run by Hickmott, Andrews received the ball wide and sprinted for the line for his second try. 

The last try came just before the final whistle and after further great team work Luca ARIZINA collected the ball and with great movement and speed powered to the line for the teams 17th score and to give us the win, 0-85.

The Maidstone lads were a complete credit to their club never giving in and they did not drop their heads and every player shook hands in the finest of rugby traditions once the game was done.

The team had played very well today with every one of the 22 performing brilliantly and most importantly their effort and desire deserved full marks. All the boys were respectful of the opposition throughout and as ever we were very proud of them. We had great support on the touchlines from the travelling masses of parents and other family members who cheered the boys on.

Head Coach Craig SMITH said afterwards :

From our point of view today was good to watch… The boys played really well! Despite me and Matt continually changing things around and switching players frequently they still kept their shape going forward and in defence. More importantly we kept a clean sheet again, happy days!! Our defence will be the difference between wining and losing against stronger opponents later on in the season. There is no man of the match nomination as we thought that every player that donned a Wanderers shirt today did what was asked, a great overall team performance.