There have been some changes in the past couple of weeks behind the scenes regarding the senior and development rugby at East Grinstead. The Colts have stepped up at training, keeping the seniors humble and injecting youthful energy and an eagerness to learn. Colts Head Coach Matt Ratana has been imparting some of his wisdom onto the seniors, specifically the forwards whilst Senior Head Coach Ben Swadling has been able focus more specifically on the backs to further their development.
After just a couple of weeks with the new dynamics at training, the difference was evident against Plumpton this weekend. As Swadling put it "can you have a more textbook scorecard?", referring to the 2 tries from Dodd on the Wing, 1 from Dodgson at Outside Centre and 1 from our Number 8, Leggat.
EG showed real character fighting back after they conceded an early try in the opening minutes. Tottman went to pop the ball from the floor after contact, but miss judging it, allowed Plumpton to steal the ball to run in a try from the half way line. Despite this one lapse in judgement, Tottman more than made up for it with his defensive effort, tackling anything that moved and being a general nuisance at the breakdown.
It wasn't long after conceding that Dodd scored his first try for the month, with his twinkle toes gracefully sliding past players after the backs stuck to the game plan of getting quick ball out wide to avoid getting sucked into Plumpton's way of playing. Unfortunately for Cooke, Dodd put the ball down in the corner, with the pitch resembling grazing land and winds which could blow Edwards over, resulted in Cooke missing the conversion. Despite Plumpton remaining 7-5 up, the quick response from the G's got under their skin, tempers increased and with it so did the penalty count. Early on, Cooke wanted to test his boot again after the near conversion miss despite the difficult conditions, however, again the ball slid past the uprights and the score remained 7-5.
Despite the score line remaining at 7-5 for a large chunk of the first half, G's retained possession well for that half, when they didn't have ball in hand often it was a result of Cooke's effective territory kicking. The pitch was small and in the first half on a downward slope, enabling Cooke to put the ball deep into the corners for our quick young Wingers Dodd and Poole to chase and put the Plumpton defence under pressure. The forwards had a great game upfront, turning over lineouts and scrums, with Morris amazingly catching balls which even Plumpton should have struggled with as they were so disgustingly not straight. At the breakdowns the pack were solid, which enabled the backs time to look up and exploit weaknesses in Plumpton's defence.
G's efforts were finally rewarded after the 30th minute when Dodd got his second try for the game, this time converted by Cooke, putting the G's 7-12 up at half time.
Going into halftime the score line was not reflective of the dominance G's had had on the game, hats off to Plumpton who spent a lot of the first half in the own 22 and even held G's out of their own 5 meter line for quite some time until successfully turning it over.
Early in the second half Plumpton's first half defensive efforts had clearly taken their toll as they were sloppy at the breakdowns creeping offside. Leggat went to take a quick tap penalty from 10 meters out, bulldozing anything in his path, crashing down over the whitewash...for the ref to then blow his whistle and point out Leggat was nowhere near the mark. Fortunately for Leggat, a few phases later he got his wish and bundled his way over the line.
Amongst all the excitement of being back playing, Hulst decided to tackle someone's knee with his head, resulting in a nasty blow that called time on stint on the pitch, to be replaced by the Legend, Martyn Ansboro. Who, after seemingly avoiding playing rugby for the season, kindly accepted to sit on our bench in the event Hulst did something stupid (lo and behold, it was a safe assumption to make).
There was one final try in the match, this time coming from Dodgson, after a lot of hard work from Dodd. Dodd made a break in our own half, going up hill and with at least 4 men in front of him. Dodd slid passed the lot slaloming his way around, certainly not taking the shortest route, allowing Dodgson to keep up with him, to take the pop just before the line and to put the ball down to secure a bonus point win.
Congratulations to Max Evans for his first 1XV cap off the bench, to replace Funnell who is consistently dominant in the scrum and an effective ball carrier. After one scrum to find his feet, Evans relaxed into his role and played very well.
FINAL SCORE: 7-24
The tides are turning for the 1XV, make sure you support the boys going forward so you can witness it happening!