Formed 2004 ... Herts 7s U14 Runners-up 2005 ... North Herts U14 team, Herts Youth Games 2005 runners-up (coached by Letchworth)... Herts Superteams U14 Runners-up 2005 ... Herts SuperTeams "Fairplay" winners 2006 ... Rochford 10s U17 Champions 2006 ... East Midlands 10s U17 Runners-up 2007 ... East Midlands 10s U17 "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... National 10s U17 5th place and "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... Herts 7s U17 Plate runners-up 2007 ... National 7s U17 Plate winners 2007 ... RFU "President's XV" Award winners 2007 ... Herts Superteams winners 2007 ... Midlands 10s U18 Runners-up 2008 ... National 10s U18 4th place 2008 ... North Herts U11 team, Herts Youth Games 2008 runners-up (coached by Letchworth girls) ... London and SE 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2008 ... Herts 7s U18s runners-up 2008 ... National 7s U18s quarter-finalists 2008 ... Gloucester City 10s U18 Bowl runner-up (6th) 2009 ... Worthing 10s U18 Plate runner-up 2009 ... National 7s U18 Plate winners 2009... Worthing 10s U15 Plate winners 2010... Worthing 10s U18 Shield winners 2010... Herts 7s U15 and U18 Bowl runners-up 2010... National 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2010...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Win a few, lose a few...

First - well done to the U14s who performed really well in their game with the Hertford girls - Vikki in particular was (I thought) one of the best players on the field, especially with the ball in her hands when she repeatedly crashed through the Hertford girls. In addition Anna, Hayley and Laura also performed well - Hayley looking very good with the responsibility of captain. If only we could find three or four more girls (and above all one BIG girl!) the U14s would have a very good team.

As for the U17s a tale of what might have been perhaps. In fact - with almost the entire team being changed at half time - to a great extent they played two games, the "First Half Team" winning comfortably 15-7, the "Second Half Team" losing 20-0.

Why the big difference? And why are we "winning comfortably" by actually narrow scores?

One factor is that substitutions disrupt teams - as we saw when we played Sudbury - it takes a few minutes to adjust to even the best players coming on. However, as we have a policy of giving everyone as much game time as we can (which did not work entirely well for Nikki yesterday - best laid plans and all that - sorry, Nikki!) with a big squad its kind of inevitable.

At one level that doesn't matter because the result in any game comes second to the interests of the players. A club or a team is best judged by how they treat the least of their players and I'd MUCH rather lose a game than have anyone standing on the touchline for the whole match - because in the end results are forgotten within days, but the experience of playing can be rememered forever.

Beyond that though why such a turnaround?

Well, no doubt Joe and Mike will have things to say but from my less technical viewpoint I'd suggest two things:

First, the "First Half Team" made it look too easy. Aside from the start of the game, they were never seriously troubled and should have scored more. This may have even lulled those that came on next into thinking it was easy - in practice Hertford are not a bad side by any means and by the time they'd realised that the first half lead had been lost. And then some. Bringing back on Haley and Nim stabalised things, but it was too late to turn it round.

Secondly, I think we forget or easily overlook how good some of our forwards are. Rosie, Robyn, Charley and Nichola don't make headlines, rarely feature on the scoreboard, and do not get into county or regional teams, but they are now an experienced bunch who do an astonishing amount of work winning and retaining the ball. Which is not be belittle the pack that came on in the second half - on paper they are just as talented (indeed in theory more so) and did include Sasha - but as a unit they were not half as effective as the first half group. I haven't seen the video, but the calls from the touchline in the second half indicated that things were not going as well.

First-half forwards in action

Was there too much reliance on Sahsa? Was Sasha too worked up having missed the first half (a sort of "reverse Hayley" - some coaches seem to have noticed that leaving H off at the start generally makes her so angry that when she does come on plays blitzes everything out of the way). Whatever the reason, whereas in the first half Hertford rarely kept the ball for more than a phase or two in the second they were continuing the full ength of the field.

And one final thing. We do seem to relax on a lead too easily. Worthing, Saracens, and now at Hertford we have dominated play, scored a couple of tries and then not killed the opposition off. With Worthing there was never a problem, but Saracens nearly sneaked a game they should have been well beaten in and now we did - over the two halves - lose a game that was already won.

Photos from both the U14s and U17s games are now available on Phil's archive

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