Sunday 17th November 2013. Suffolk 12: Norfolk 19
From the outset it was clear that this would be a much more even affair than our last outing in Cambridgeshire. We were presented with a Norfolk side that was well organised and from the outset obviously quite capable.
Suffolk began nervously, but began to put pressure on the opposition with early territorial advantage. Norfolk's early intent to try to clear their lines with a tactical kicking game soon ceased when each kick was comfortably returned, often with interest.
With 11 of their starting line up going to the same school, the Norfolk lads were well drilled in defence and proved very difficult to break down. The same understanding made them very dangerous in possession, able to move the ball quickly to some quality strike runners.
The breakthrough came from a Suffolk scrum outside the Norfolk 22. The ball cycled quickly through the half backs to full-back Faisal Olobooye hitting the line at pace in just the right place to by-pass the Norfolk rush defence. Showing his legendary pace he then outstripped the remaining Norfolk backs on a diagonal run to score in the opposite corner. James Parry converted for a 7 point lead.
Desperate to get back on even terms, there followed a sustained period of Norfolk possession, pushing us back relentlessly. Excellent tackling and defensive play on our line was marred time and again by a high penalty count, giving the opposition too many opportunities to re-group and attack again. Eventually the pressure lead to a converted try to Norfolk.
Following the re-start, with the points even, there followed and excellent spell of rugby from both sides, each showing both creative attacking play and equally stern defence.
Another Suffolk scrum, this time on the left side of the field yielded the second Suffolk try with Tom Scovell taking a line from the blind side wing inside our fly half to pass the Norfolk defenders and again run at pace for the opposite corner. Suffolk lead by 5.
Unfortunately the lead was short lived, as a mistake receiving the restart yielded a scrum in a good position to Norfolk. A pacey Norfolk 10 accelerated through a gap in our line to bring the score back to level. The conversion putting Norfolk into the lead.
The game resumed much as before, Suffolk taking possession and advancing again into Norfolk territory. With half-time looming though the Norfolk 8 surged through our line with an astounding turn of pace to score a break-away try in the corner. Norfolk lead 19-12 at half-time.
The second half began with a determined Suffolk team testing the Norfolk defence time and again with impressive attacking play. Suffolk moved the ball well and recycled quickly to keep pushing the opposition back. A series of quality surges was only marred by the fact that for one reason or the other, we kept giving up the ball through penalties. Never-the-less we found ourselves on the Norfolk line, where they defended well before finally managing to clear.
Again both sides both sides played some fantastic rugby, testing each other to the limit. Norfolk had one further attempt to score down the left wing, but the move was effectively smothered. Both sides continued to defend well.
As Norfolk tired, we again surged forward, looking time and again as if we might break through, only for the move to break down with an infringement. Norfolk were relieved to hear the final whistle, as Suffolk had the better of the second half but the score hadn't been altered.
Well done to the whole squad. This game could have gone either way, and it was an impressive performance against a side with a large group of players who train together on a daily basis. The backs moved the ball well, there were very few handling errors all round and our defence was generally solid. Great work-rate from the forwards, especially man-of-the-match Tom Brown, with plenty of great runs and tackles, and a captain's knock from Aron Miller.
Try scorers: Olobooye (1), Scovell (1)
Conversion: Parry (1)
Cierran Baker-Mortlock, Tom Brown, Joe Colcomb, Joe Cook, Ben Harrington, George Holroyd, Harry Hopkins, Bobby Hopkinson, Aron Miller (c), Troy Palmer, Arthur Romer-Lee, Francois Rossouw, Aldis Salavejs.
Toby Allday, James Bellhouse, Sam Garrington, Callum Hempstead, Jamie Murray, Faisal Olobooye, James Parry, Jonny Sage, Tom Scovell, Jack Simpson.
Sunday 9th February 2014. KENT 40, SUFFOLK 14
On a weekend where virtually no youth rugby would be played across the south of Engalnd, playable pitches being as rare as rocking horse poop, a remarkable feat of organisation by the manager of Kent saw us play a windy, but dry game on the all weather surface of Blackheath Rugby Club.
Rugby boundaries being what they are Blackheath is inside the domain of Kent RFU with a large chunk of East London. With Kent proper (having twice the population of Suffolk, even with our own funny rugby boundaries) and it's metropolitan catchment area to select players from, we were expecting a hard game.
It was clear from the outset that we were facing a team that were large, fast and able. The first phases of the game were played largely in our own half, and whilst we did have a good deal of possession, intelligent kicking by the opposition kept pinning us back. Our line-out worked well, regaining possession regularly following Kent's tactical kicks. Kent nearly took the early lead but for a great try saving tackle by Tom McAllister.
Excellent defence of our own line and further covering tackles in the wide areas from Henry Dewar and Francios Roussouw kept the score 0-0 for about 20 minutes. Eventually Kent broke through to score and convert to take the lead 7-0.
The re-start saw us kick deep and charge, forcing a knock on and a scrum close to Kent's try-line. A penalty from the scrum lead to Kent defending on the line, but when the ball popped loose and dribbled into the in-goal, Tom Brown was first to react and put his hand on the ball to score. James Parry converted, 7-7.
The last ten minutes saw a fairly even exchange of play as we started being able to move the ball a bit more, but as the play loosened up Kent were able to make a break through our line to run in a second, and shortly afterwards a missed tackle lead to a third Kent try. At half-time the score stood 21-7 to Kent.
The second half began with Suffolk dominating territory and possession and forcing Kent to defend deep in their own half. Suffolk nearly scored again when Jamie Murray jinked through a gap only to be caught within inches of the line. Kent's defence was sound, and eventually they were able to clear with a series of huge wind assisted kicks to take the play down our end.
When Kent did have possession, they were able to move the ball well with several strong fast runners all having an eye for a timely offload. A well worked move saw them score in the corner having committed our defenders in the previous phase. Not converted this time, 26-7.
Shortly afterwards the player who seemed to epitomize the Kent squad, a huge prop wearing a 5 shirt with a deceptive turn of speed, managed to punch through again to score near the posts, an easy conversion followed.
At 33-7 down, our lads could have been forgiven for dropping their heads a bit, but to a man they kept fighting on and perhaps played some of their best rugby of the day in the last quarter of the game.
A scrum well into Kent territory was won to feed Faisal Olobooye hitting the line at pace inside the half backs to break on a diagonal run for the far corner. Able to outstrip the entire Kent back division he put down for Suffolk's second try. Again James Parry Converted 33-14.
Kent appeared to be tiring, as Suffolk surged forward several more times. Callum Hempstead nearly made another breakthrough with a kick and chase up his wing. Shortly afterwards Arthur Romer-Lee broke up the wing with débutante Chris Oaks in close support being forced into touch inside the Kent 22. We won a scrum from the line-out, a good back-row move shifted the ball closer to the Kent line and Aron Miller (c) drove from the back of a ruck to put the ball down in the corner, unfortunately he had been forced to put a foot into touch...
We looked dangerous for the rest of the game which was played mostly in Kent's half, but could add no further points. Kent however managed to break out for a further converted try and the game ended 40-12 to Kent.
Altogether a good game played in the right spirit with a never-say-die attitude. Our coaches nominated Francios Roussouw man-of-the match, and our opposition presented a Kent tie to their choice for m-o-t-m, Faisal Olobooye. Congratulations also to Chris Oaks on making his first appearance for Suffolk.
Try Scorers: Brown (1), Olobooye (1)
Conversions: Parry (2)
JAMES BELLHOUSE, TOM BROWN, JOE COLCOMB, HENRY DEWAR, WILL EVERITT, SAM GARRINGTON, CALLUM HEMPSTEAD, GEORGE HOLROYD, HARRY HOPKINS, TOM MCALLISTER, ARON MILLER (C), JAMIE MURRAY, CHRIS OAKS, FAISAL OLOBOOYE, TROY PALMER, JAMES PARRY, JOE RICE, ARTHUR ROMER-LEE, FRANCOIS ROSSOUW, JACOB ROUSE, ALDIS SALAVEJS, ALEX SHEMMING, JACK SIMPSON.