U18s lose on paper but win as a squad
Young Bulls dig deep into their skill bank
The Under 18s trip to Dunfermline was always going to be a test of the squad depth.
Even before three late call offs there was already eight starters from the previous week missing, plus another seven players unavailable. We were literally taking everyone left in the squad but were optimistic that due to the intensity and style of the training we have been doing, it didn’t matter who was in the squad as traditional positioning is becoming less important as player's individual skill sets get better.
The game played on a very heavy pitch took a little bit of getting used to. To be fair to Dunfermline, they played a game style that we had not seen this season so far and it probably suited the conditions better. Hamilton plugged away at our game plan but Dunfermline managed score two well worked forward trys and by half time were 14-0 up.
The second half started in a similar fashion and Dunfermline scored another two trys quite quickly. With the score 24-0 and only 20 minutes left on the clock, Hamilton finally managed to combine the fast game we have been trying to play, with the skills required to play it in those conditions. Perhaps training on a 3G pitch over the winter has provided a false environment but the Young Bulls worked it out.
Using the ball to move the game across the heavy pitch rather than running with it, Hamilton opened up the game, finding spaces out wide we broke the Dunfermline line and scored in the corner taking the score to 24-5. Seven minutes later, another opportunity saw the Bulls with a period of pressure in the Dunfermline twenty two and again, moving the ball through the hands, created the space to score the second try. This time the conversion was made and the score was 24-12.
The Young Bulls were not finished there and with Dunfermline realising that the Bulls were finishing strongly, they made a handling error that allowed a kick through. A chase ensued with Olly Dalby kicking the ball clear of the Dunfermline defence and while obviously winning the race to the try line he was tackled without the ball and rightly, the Penalty try was given taking the score to 24-19.
With only a few minutes left the Bulls tried their hardest to find the last score but the game finished deep inside the Dunfermline half before a final score could be created.
All in all a very satisfactory performance in the second half and when the coaches look back and consider that we had a squad that consisted of 6 front row, 1 lock, 6 wingers, 3 half backs and 2 centres the requirement for them all to be just ‘Rugby Players’ showed that the depth in the squad is going to cause problems, when it comes to selecting only twenty two, for the cup games that are coming up.
Special mention goes to Shawn Brawley and Callum Anderson for their first starting slots of the season. Also thanks to wingers, Shaun McGuire and Aaron Wijetunga for playing as flankers for a large chunk of the game. Great job guys!
Thanks to Dunfermline for the invite and hospitality. Also congratulations on winning the Gallant Conference. Thanks as always to our travelling support, who are there, rain or shine. Also thanks to Mary McWhirter for the cover photo. Finally thanks to Graeme Bruce who filmed the game from twenty five feet up a lighting tower, to give us a perspective on the match to rival Murrayfield. Literally ‘above and beyond the call of duty’.