Semi-finalists - Report Attached
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As we approach the end of the rugby season and on a mild Spring day when the forecasted rain thankfully failed to materialise until the very end, Wymondham set off to Diss for a festival of rugby that included what are arguably some of the strongest teams in the region.
The draw placed Wymondham in the toughest pool that comprised Cambridge, Colchester, Woodbridge and Spalding. Matches were reduced to just 6 minutes each way to accommodate the number of teams and fixtures so Wymondham needed to be quick off the stocks if the team was to score the necessary tries to go through to the semi-final stage of the tournament.
Game One - Woodbridge: Wymondham’s first fixture turned out to be the least challenging of the four pool matches. An early intercept by Woodbridge caused some consternation amongst the Wymondham parents but the team settled in and bounced back with determination and pace from the backs. Four tries were scored and Wymondham won the game convincingly.
Tries Scored: Wymondham 4, Woodbridge 1 - Lewis Jennings (2), Owen Sharpe (1) & Dom Smith (1)
Game Two - Spalding: The second game was a scrappier affair in which Wymondham never seemed to get going and the team lacked a real determination to win. Rucking was lack-lustre and the backs appeared to be static, needing to run onto the ball more steeply and at pace. At one stage many parents began to wonder if the game was lost but two excellent tries from strong runs by Owen Sharpe and Joe Milligan managed to level the score.
Tries Scored: Wymondham 2, Spalding 2 – Owen Sharpe (1) & Joe Milligan (1)
Game Three – Cambridge: The third game was a little easier on the nerves to watch but again, it didn’t quite seem to flow in the usual way for Wymondham. Rucking and was not assertive enough but tries were eventually scored following some good handling and excellent pace from Lewis Jennings and Dominic Smith. Charlie Blower also showed great agility and nimble footwork to score a try from a break that covered half the pitch.
Tries Scored: Wymondham 3, Cambridge 0 – Dom Smith (1), Lewis Jennings (1) & Charlie Blower (1)
Game Four – Colchester: Against a side that Wymondham had beaten on no less than three previous occasions this season, Wymondham should have prevailed in this final match. However, the increasingly nervous parents (some had even taken to the wine by this stage!) observed a Colchester team that really wanted to win. Alongside its usual array of quality players they had recruited a new 6’2” forward and Colchester outplayed a Wymondham team that simply did not rise to the challenge. Colchester won and later went on to win the overall tournament.
Tries Scored: Wymondham 0, Colchester 1
Semi-final Stage – Wymondham –v- Shelford
Having won through to the semi-finals, Wymondham next faced Shelford – a team that it had lost to earlier this season albeit with a much depleted team. The boys therefore knew they had their work cut out and a physical and challenging game of rugby lay ahead.
From the outset Wymondham were on the back foot against another quality side that were determined to win. Again, rucking seemed lack-lustre, tackles were missed and the team struggled to retain possession of the rugby ball. As the clocked ticked by Wymondham found itself two tries down at half time and it appeared to some that the game may be lost. But then in the last three minutes of the second half Wymondham suddenly started to believe in itself and the team played its usual rugby – powerful, clean rucking, fast hands and outstanding pace in the backs. One try from Owen Sharpe led to another and the score was tied at the final whistle.
Whilst the rules of the festival were clear what should happen in a draw at the pool stage and in the final (i.e. a flip of a coin), there was no direction as to what should be done for an identical scenario at the semi-finals. The matter was therefore referred ‘upstairs’ and it was decided that a different approach should be adopted with the side scoring the most tries throughout the festival going through to the finals. Shelford were therefore awarded their place in the final.
Tries Scored: Wymondham 2, Shelford 2 – Owen Sharpe (2)
In summary, an enjoyable if not frustrating day at Diss for the Wymondham team. Whilst there were moments of brilliance, the team only really seemed to get it together right at the end of the festival by which time it was too late. Wymondham were capable of playing better rugby than that seen today and whilst short 6 minute halves may not suit their usual game, Wymondham lacked a determination to succeed by winning the rucks, making hard tackles, moving and carrying the ball at pace in the way they usually play. The last few minutes of the semi-final showed their true capability and it is at this level that they must consistently perform if Wymondham is to become at dominant force at the final fixture of the season in Bishops Stortford in May.
Keep training boys and believe in yourselves!!
As a post script Wymondham had a small victory late in the day. James Sutton was awarded player of the festival, winning a Leicester shirt signed by the Leicester squad. See the picture in the gallery! Well done James, a really good start to your time at Wymondham!!!