Mellish 0 v 24 Sleaford
Sleaford made another trip cross county this weekend for their second foray into Nottinghamshire territory.
Team support and availability still providing a welcome headache for the coaches leading to a 20 strong squad, providing loads of flexibility and scope.
The weekend’s opponents were Mellish and Ashfield in a three way bout. Two games - 15 minutes each way. These were two completely unknown quantities as this Sleaford team hadn’t played either before today.
Sleaford took the better of the draws choosing to play the 1st and 3rd games.
First up Mellish and Sleaford stepped into the unknown, somehow this was a nice feeling for the coaches yet scattered with trepidation on how the team were going to respond. The start was solid yet somehow faltering. Realisation dawned quickly that the team were actually trying too hard. Rather than sticking to the basics, gauging the quality of the opposition, identifying the weak spots and exploiting them, they were trying to throw the kitchen sink at it from word go.
What a surprise that on 20 minutes passes out of a wrap tackle were going anywhere and lone runners were being isolated in contact.
This was not the Sleaford that we’ve seen over the previous two weekends. Fortunately and positively they were securing ball on a regular basis and despite throwing away opportunity after opportunity they weren’t put under any real pressure when defending. Finally, more by fortune than design, they broke through the Mellish defence and crossed the try line. Mellish didn’t take this lying down and very quickly put Sleaford under pressure on their own try line – this is where true team spirit and grit come out and Sleaford delivered again. The dedication and commitment on the line from this group is second to none, Mellish would be denied.
Half time talk called for the players to refocus. Mellish upped their game at the breakdown and Sleaford found themselves having to work harder for possession, when they got it, the game changed, no more flash Harry none-sense just clean support and tight running lines, meaning they began to cut through the defence and put Mellish under pressure on every attack. The tries started to come more easily too.
The Mellish scrum was working well and provided a number of platforms to mount attacks but Sleaford’s tackle count kept rising while the missed tackle count stayed flat!
The combination of a dedicated Sleaford pack securing good possession and a back line keeping it simple, straight and supported produced tries.
Well done Sleaford – shaky start but clinical finish.