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Match Report for

Charles River (1st) vs. Mad River/Stowe (1st)
14 October 2017

Location: No location provided

Charles River: 10    Mad River/Stowe: 25

On and off rain initially then relatively warm weather with some moderate humidity, Charles river old boys present after playing a match before hand.

Two evenly matched sides in the thick of a playoff race. Conditions were very slick to begin with but the ball handling was on point as there were few knock ons. Experienced front rows on both sides made for good competition even if at the edge of the law book.

MR controlled the match initially, they retained their ball well and kept the ball in the CR half of the field, CR kept MR from scoring with tough defense bailing them out and then forcing a mistake. CR would kick the ball out of their end and then MR would march it back down. When CR was able to get the ball out of their half MR contested nearly every ruck which generally resulted in a turnover as CR was slow to offer support on anything outside of a crash ball. MR game plan was to play aggressive at the breakdown and it seemed to work in their favor as they they turned the ball over in bunches and forced CR to commit extra if they wanted to retain possession. CR had difficulty countering this tactic only finding relief when MR would be overly aggressive and commit a penalty, eventually allowing CR to turn one of said infractions into 3 points. MR soon followed with a great team try following a couple of pretty off loads and it was 7-3. The remainder of the first half was more of the same, though CR was more successful in the second quarter at getting out of their own end and were able to apply a bit of pressure on the MR defense, which to their credit did not crack and even inside their 22 were able to turn the ball over, contesting at the rucks and once again were able to get in the open field and add another converted try..

At the half both captains were warned that infractions at the breakdown were starting to impede the progress of the match, otherwise it was a very clean half, both teams were playing fast and low. CR was down but momentum seemed to be swinging in their favor as at the half it was obvious if they finished a couple of tackles they would probably be looking at a much smaller deficit.

CR continued their pressure from the first half but were unable to capitalize and following a side entry penalty in their half of the field momentum once again looked to shift as MR took a 17-3 lead, however the larger deficit seemed to light a fire under CR as they finally began to offer their ball carriers a bit more support and following an excellent run by their #9 and an offload to the reserve hooker then a very impressive conversion the score was 17-10. Entering the last quarter of the match CR had all the momentum and looked keen on making the comeback, however MR’s fitness advantage in the pack and a shocking change in CR discipline (two shoulder charges including one yellow card, a high tackle, a pushing fend to the face) left CR empty handed, a MR unconverted try made it 22-10. CR had one more scoring opportunity with 7 minutes remaining, following a quick tap at the 22 a MR defender did not retreat 10 meters and interfered, he was shown a YC but CR was not able to finish as with time dwindling they were going for trys. The game was iced with 2 minutes left following a drop goal that finished the scoring, 25-10 Mad River.

The standouts for the match were interesting in the fact that many opposite numbers were the top players on the field. CR #8 was a constant threat carrying the ball but the MR #8 had an impressive defensive display and offered support on what seemed like all of his teams offensive phases. Both starting #15s neutralized the opposition in the kick game not allowing either to gain an upperhand. Halfbacks on both sides kept cool heads and executed well. CR was better in the lineout and MR in the scrums but the differences were marginal. If asked to point to one area in the match that made the difference in scores it was the discipline of the MR back row and their ability to maintain high work rate all around the field and in every phase of the match.

High tackles were limited and the contact appeared to be at the shoulders not on the neck or head so no cards were needed. Back chat and dissent was also limited and the number of playing referees on the field decreased dramatically as the match went on

Referee: Akira Do