Match Report
Royal Hospital School 1st XV vs  RGS, Colchester
On: Saturday, 23 Sep 2017
Venue: at Home

Losing a player to the sin bin is never ideal but especially so when it happens in the first 10 seconds of the game against a team who had scored over 50 points in both of their previous two matches. A mistimed tackle from the kick off meant the Colchester player was taken in the air and the captain had to sit out the next 9 minutes. This galvanised the away side who found an impressive intensity from the off. However, the RHS team defended stoutly with the structure looking in good order and a high work rate to match. An excellent turn over gave the 1st XV chance to clear their lines but the decision making proved suspect as the boys tried to run the ball, despite being on the back foot, and Colchester intercepted the pass to take the lead (0-5). Momentum was now very much with the visitors and they attacked with pace and guile. However, as before, the RHS defence was in good order, with players making solid tackles before bouncing quickly back to their feet to make another one. Wave after wave of attacks by Colchester were thwarted and slowly the momentum started to swing towards the home side. Some hard running by the forwards allied to some deft hands by the backs allowed RHS to attack deeper into the Colchester half. A penalty by Toby Ruffles opened the scoring (3-5) and then a second saw RHS take a one point lead (6-5). With both sides playing attacking rugby the crowd enjoyed a game which contained some flair in attack and no inch given in defence. RHS were beginning to gain dominance at the breakdown which was to prove decisive. A good turn over allowed Kieran Farrer to spot half a gap and his decisive break led to a try for the fit again Jordan Milburn, who picked an excellent support line. Ruffles added the extra two points (13-5). Disaster struck soon afterwards as Farrer, who was having a storming game, took a knock and had to be replaced. However, RHS have shown impressive character in recent weeks and this setback did not stop their momentum as yet more impressive handling allowed Toby Okechukwu to score (again Ruffles added the extras: 20-5).

Momentum was certainly with RHS now and the half time team talk revolved around limiting mistakes, making calm decisions under pressure and getting the ball wide where the backs were doing real damage. The best laid plans and all that.......... A mistake from the restart gifted Colchester prime field position and within a minute of play resuming Colchester scored after their excellent centre spotted a mismatch to arc through the RHS defence (20-12). The RHS boys responded well and for much of the second half were the dominant side, however the decision making in attack proved shaky as a number of clear opportunities to score were 'butchered' either by players dithering on the ball in midfield or ignoring overlaps out wide as they cut back inside. Toby Lee countered this by nipping over from close range to again give the home side some breathing space (27-12). With the clock ticking down and RHS 3 scores up, it should have been a calm end to the game, but the team again tried to overplay from inside their own 22 with nothing on, they were turned over and Colchester scored (27-19) to get a few hearts racing. To their credit RHS then played with a more astute approach and were worthy winners come the final whistle.

Defensively this was a magnificent performance - the work rate and completed tackles would have impressed at any level of the game. The key now is to try and maintain the consistency of the decision making in attack. When they achieve that, this RHS team will take some beating.