On a crisp autumnal Wednesday morning, the boys were up bright an early for an 8;30 leave to Sheffield. The match was full of anticipation due to Sheffield 1st XV winning the league the year before and putting the double on Durham. Scores were needed to be settled. After such a confident performance the week before against York XV, Durham’s confidence was high and were looking to continue the dominant scrum and flowing backs moves.
The early bus gave the team a long time to shake off the lengthy journey and have a long, spirited warm up. Kick off came at 2:30 and we kicked off to what seemed a very well drilled, focused opposition. Following an early scrum in midfield we knew they would put up a fight and wouldn’t be the same pushover at the breakdown as the previous week. A strong scrum from the men up front allowed a swift backs move and great support allowed Ali Broughton to smash over the line from 10 metres out with a strong carry for our first points of the game.
Accurate kicking from Ben Cook all game kept the scoreboard ticking over and provided us with constant field position and territory. The first lineout came early into the first half, an area which we had struggled on the previous week, but a new combination of Justin Beese and Harry Hall in the engine room gave us the strong foundations we needed and we reaped the benefits providing plenty of the ball to the backs allowing Jack Hedley and Anthony Nzegwu both to go over the whitewash twice with strong running and clinical finishing.
Once again, our main downfall was our own doing, giving away too many penalties in our half allowed a strong opposition fly half to pin us down deep into our 22. A powerful driving mall allowed them to cross our line for the first time of the game. This was an asset of their game which we knew would give us trouble.
We took little time to respond with quick Akira Takenaka providing consistent, snappy ball to the backs and in particular to Ollie Wilson and George Shiel who dominated the mid field the entire game providing constant ball to the wingers, racking up many assists between them. Just before half time, strong carries from the forwards coupled with offloads out the tackles allowed Jack Walkden to cross the line for the final points of the half.
The following half provided the injection of the super-subs; Ethan Harbinson made an immediate impact taking the restart with a fantastic catch putting us right on the front foot. An early head collision between Elliot Manley and Tom Picton-Turbevil left us 2 men out of action. Once again, too many penalties put us deep in our own half giving them a lineout 5m out. The inevitable followed; a strong driving mall which trundled over for another try. A sour end to a dominating game.
This resulted in a resounding final score of 66-25, an extremely strong score against a team who were close to promotion last year. Man of the match justifiably went to Ollie Wilson. Durham on course for a definitely attainable unbeaten season, a dominant start to the season.