Coach’s Talk – A report from Steve Hazzelby

Last Saturday we entertained Bournville in our second home game of the season. They are new to National League rugby after being promoted from the lower leagues. A young, dynamic side who look to play expansive rugby at every opportunity. They had started the new season well with three big wins, one loss and the top try scoring team in the league, so this was always going to be a hard fought encounter. We had trained well during the week, spirits were high as this was a special game for two of the players. Winger Sam Lowthion was playing his 100th league game for the club and fly half Steve Collins his 200th game. A wonderful achievement for two fantastic club men.

The game started well with both teams looking to establish territory and possession during the early exchanges. Our Kick chase was excellent enabling us to put pressure onto the Bournville players and keeping play within their half. Our rush defence was solid as Bournville looked to move the ball wide at every opportunity. Our forwards gave us great forward momentum with a number of dynamic line out drives and they could only relieve the pressure with penalties that were awarded to them.

Bournville put the first score on the board with a penalty on 13 minutes after we were offside in the middle of the park. It was not until the 34th minute that we registered our first score with a lovely try from scrum half Jacob Tansey who collected at the base of the lineout to go over in the left hand corner. Steve added the conversion and we went into the lead going into the last 6 minutes of the half. Bournville did get another penalty on the 40th minute and we went into the interval 7-6 up. A little bit of a frustrating half for the players as we had created a number of good opportunities but unforced errors and good defence from Bournville kept us out.

The second half started well for the Tigers and we went further into the lead with a penalty converted by Steve after 4 minutes, 10-6 up. The game continued to be played in a tough, uncompromising manner with both sides not giving any ground. However after a good line out on their 40 metre line and great driving play down the middle, the ball was switched left and full back Andy Riley ghosted past two defenders to score a marvellous try in the corner. 15-6 in the lead going into the last 20 minutes.

We continued to take the game to Bournville with a good attacking shape and support which tested their defences to the full. After great possession and phase play deep in Bournville’s 22, centre Oli Glasse chipped the ball accurately for winger Rhys Henderson to collect and score in the corner further extending our lead. Bournville never gave up and the last ten minutes was hectic but the Tigers defence was resolute and sound despite being down to 12 men after we received three yellow cards from the referee. The final score was 20-6 to the Tigers and a great four league points agains’t a really good Bournville side. We are now joint top of the league with Rotherham and Hull Ionians and this is testament to all the hard work that the players have put in.

Next Saturday will be another huge test for the players as we are on the road on the long trip up to Blaydon. They have had a poor start to the season and are still looking for their first win. Despite this we know that we will have to be at our best to take the points.