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Depleted Swaffham battle away

PUBLISHED: 18:05 07 October 2009 | UPDATED: 11:26 08 July 2010

With an injury list fast approaching double figures, coupled with illness and a couple of unavailable players, Swaffham's U15 rugby squad travelled with 14 players to Thetford to play Bury St Edmunds.

With an injury list fast approaching double figures, coupled with illness and a couple of unavailable players, Swaffham's U15 rugby squad travelled with 14 players to Thetford to play Bury St Edmunds.

With the promised rain not materialising the match had been moved from Bury's ground to the lush playing fields of Thetford Grammar School.

The hosts arrived equally light of players (having a squad of 15) due to them running two squads but had fielded the majority of their A squad against Swaffham.

Following discussions between the coaches it was agreed that in order to play all the boys Bury would field 15 players in the first half and one of those would join Swaffham in the second.

This ensured that all the boys got as much playing time as possible.

Swaffham started strongly contesting the contact area very well but the extra number quickly proved decisive for Bury with quick ball moved wide to round the Swaffham defence and open the scoring.

The Swaffham scrum although a man down contested well with the physically bigger Bury pack, Cupcake, Manley and Potter in the front row all contested well all morning.

Whilst Bury pressured the Swaffham line brave tackles flew in from the Swaffham boys and Milligan was able to clear the lines. OB and Rob combined well in the loose to make decent ground.

However Bury were clinical with the ball once they got possession. Their centre partnering caused problems in Swaffham defence and they created and took the second try.

This pairing then created a 10 minute period of rugby which as a neutral would have been a joy to watch. They identified the space left by the missing player and exploited it ruthlessly creating three tries to take the score to Swaffham 0, Bury 26.

At this point the Bury number 12 was forced to leave the pitch injured and we wish him all the best for a speedy recovery.

Swaffham continued the pressure at the rucks and mauls making the Bury team work for every inch. Hudson demonstrated the team spirit by making a try saving tackle on a player easily twice his sized crashing them both through the corner flag into touch.

However from the resulting scrum Bury managed to create a further try to finish the half Swaffham 0, Bury 31.

Without the benefit of the extra player the teams took to the pitch with 14 players each for the second half. Swaffham were now playing up the hill with the sun blazing into their faces. Who says rugby is a game played in the mud!

The defence were again tested as Bury set out to repeat the first half. Swaffham however weren't having that and again the boys put their bodies on the line for their team mates. Stand-out tackles came from Clark, Jones and Potter whilst the pack repelled Bury from rucks and turned over mauls.

Bury continued to batter away including a strong drive from ex-Swaffham player Tom Sayer who was looking to score against his old team mates. The Swaffham boys were not of the mind to allow this. However his work in the pack helped to drive their prop over to open the scoring in this half.

The Bury backs again displayed excellent handling skills to create a well-taken try in the corner.

Swaffham then kicked long from the restart and pressured Bury's line. Hudson was inches away having stepped and weaved in front of the posts.

The pack was there in numbers and Manley drove the ball up again only to be met by a green line of defence. Again the forwards recycled and Milligan dived over a pile of bodies only to have the ball knocked from his hand as he went to ground it. However the referee was playing advantage and took Swaffham back for a penalty.

Cupcake blasted the line and from the ensuing ruck Bury turned over and cleared the ball. Luke recovered well and again got the ball to his pack who pushed to get on the score board.

Bury turned the ball over and fed their winger who looked like he'd got an open line to score before in the act of diving for the line he was hit with a massive tackle from Rob who had run fully 30 metres to save the try.

The game was in its final minutes and Bury again created one final chance to score and finish the game Swaffham 0, Bury 48.

Huge credit must be given to the Swaffham players which included three making their club debuts who whilst they were up against a well drilled and organised team never let the scoreboard get them down and continued to play and tackle and defend to the very last. This was very much a team performance and whilst there will be much to work on in training this could have been a much bigger score but for the team spirit Swaffham displayed. Sometimes you learn more about your team-mates in a game like this than you do by winning.

Thanks go to Tom Robinson for turning out for Swaffham as a guest and ex-player.

The whole team tackled well all morning but stand out and last line of defence was Clarky who organised his line from full back and when the chances arose launched Swaffham's attacks. His display earned him the Impson's Butchers Man of the Match.

Next week the squad is hopeful that some of the injured players will be boosting the numbers as Swaffham welcome Newmarket to North Pickenham Road.

Huge thanks to the travelling support and to the parents and supporter of Bury who are a credit to the game.

The players from both sides gave everything in the match and played in the spirit of the game which was evident as they chatted afterwards.

Also mention to the referee who controlled the game excellently and ensured it flowed whilst being mindful of the very hard conditions underfoot.

Swaffham squad: Potter (captain), Manley, Cupcake, Max, Max, OB, Luke, Hud, Sharky, Rob, Tom W, Tom R, Ed and Clarky (MoM).

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