Dorset and Wilts U20s hosted the Royal Air Force U23s at Trowbridge RFC on Sunday. Head coach Ali Lund continues to challenge the team to improve their performances and he wasn't disappointed with an impressive 48-17 win.
On a perfect pitch at Doric Park DW started off with a bang! Some really fluent passages of play being put together right from the start. With scrum half Harrison Wall distributing the ball quickly to allow DW to play some impressive rugby. Unfortunately his game was brought to a quick end when he had to come off injured after 3 minutes - he was replaced by Ciaran Johnston who continued on Wall's good start. DW were soon on the score board when debutant Harvey Schorah crashed over from short distance to score. Harry Bazalgette slotted the extras. DW took confidence from this score and began to add more pressure to the visitors, forcing mistakes. From these mistakes DW were able to add another quick score when inform winger Noah Cannon getting his hands on the ball after intercepting a loose RAF pass, Cannon was then able to evade his opposite man by using his electric pace to avoid the recovering defenders to score in the left hand corner - his forth try in the two games. Bazalgette was unable to add the difficult extras. 12-0 after 15 minutes it was a good start from the men in green. However the score must of sparked the RAF to life as they began to get themselves back into the game with some strong carries and using their size as battering rams to try and break the DW defence. However James Bagguley and co were up to the challenge with some big hits to prevent any breaching of the hosts line. Finally, after many phases of 'crash balls' the RAF were able to break through a gap and score an unconverted try. Amongst the score for the RAF there were several penalties awarded in the lead up to the score and centre Bazalgette was shown yellow for repeated team infringements. This gave the RAF some confidence and they began to play with some intent getting the ball out to the backs. It was however a error on the hosts side that gifted the RAF the next score. After a penalty the RAF found themselves with an attacking lineout 5 metres away from the DW line. the lineout was spoilt by Hamish Janes who tipped it back from the lineout to the DW side however an awkward bounce and some hesitation from the green and whites allowed an RAF player to pounce on the ball and go over unopposed from short distance. The difficult extras were narrowly missed. As the half drew to an end, DW were desperate to re take control of the fixture. Rory Horsington was able to comfort some nerves when he crashed over the line to score. Bazalgette was again unable to add the extras. So at half time DW lead the RAF 17-10.
The second half started and was littered by several errors which resulted in scrum practice for the forwards. DW like the previous match against the Royal Navy had a strong scrum and were causing the RAF issues. It was long into the half before DW were back on the score board. a clearing kick from the RAF found DW fullback Jonny Dowell who took a good catch before unleashing a long range pass to the rampant Cannon, who from the middle of the field was able to accelerate through the mismatched large forwards approaching him and blitz passed the remaining defenders to score a 45 metre run in try in the corner. Bazalgette slotted the difficult extras from far out wide. Unfortunately for DW, RAF hit back straight away with a poor drop from the restart allowed the RAF to again pounce on the scraps, this time 30 metres out were able to avoid and break poor tackles from the DW defence to score. the conversion was successful and the RAF edge themselves back into the game. The middle passage of the second half was full of ill discipline from the both sides, resulting in numerous amounts of penalties around the ruck. However the game swung back in the favour of DW were able to seal the game within the last 15 minutes with 3 more tries, another score from Cannon to seal his second hatrick in two games and two scores from flanker Hamish Janes. The second of his scores was a great backs move which saw Janes receive an short inside ball from the Bazalgette to carve through the defence. Bazalgette’s boot was in fine form in the second half as he converted all 3 of the conversions two being very testing. Bazalgette also added a penalty to take his tally for the day to 13pts. The final whistle blew after Bazalgette’s last conversion and the score read DW 48 RAF 17.
It was evident to see that the result meant a lot to the DW boys. It was a hard fought game which saw a lot of collisions and a lot of fine rugby being played. DW will no doubt be happy with the result and the manner it was taken, however there were several points in the game where the foot was taken off the accelerator and the RAF fought their way back into the game. Lund commented on the progress made from the recent Royal Navy game ‘I am really pleased with how the squad responded to the challenges the RAF provided. We improved our decision making which helped create some fantastic try scoring opportunities’. Our defence was strong, but the challenge now is too keep up the higher intensities for longer periods of the game. Again DW blooded some of their youngster by giving opportunities to other players – as well as try scorer Schorah 5 others made their DW U20 debuts – Jonny Dowell, Finn Watkins, Lewis Saliba, Jack Utton & Morgan Bowen all made good impressions in the U20s jerseys. It is good to see the U20s starting to click together and look dangerous on the ball. Unfortunately during the match Harrison Wall was rushed to a hospital with the scrum half having a fractured arm and dislocated wrist, everyone at DW would like to wish a speedy and full recovery to the scrum half. No doubt Lund will be looking to continue to build on the performance as the squad prepare for their last two warm up fixtures before the championships start in the New Year with a tricky fixture against Berkshire on 10th December at Bournemouth RFC. Lund will look to give opportunities to players as well as in the back in head look to find his starting line up for the championship games. Team manager Mike Sams commented ‘it’s great to have some many talented players within our squad, it gives a great foundation. We believe that competition brings out the best of our players. Our next match will be against Berkshire who defeated the green and whites last year. I’m proud of how each of these players rise to the challenges we set. We provide them with the opportunities and credit to them as they are taking them with both hands right now. Berkshire is a game that will give us a real opportunity to decide on our Championship starting squad”.