Diss U14's 24 vs Norwich 40
By Peter Allott
Diss continue to close the gap, but more work to do.
Diss hosted Norwich U14’s for a match that offered the chance to measure how the team has progressed over the last year. It is fair to say that at U12 and U13 level the Norwich team was a significant level above the Diss boys – bigger, stronger and technically better. Sunday’s clash allowed us to see if this gap had closed and where our future focus needs to be. An intriguing, hard fought and tight match gave us many of the answers.
Diss had the worst possible start, conceding a try almost from the kick off and then a second from a simple interception. A third followed midway through the half leaving the team 0:21 down. It was not clear if there was a lack of belief from the boys (reflecting results in previous years) or they were just not up to speed. They were often on the back foot being second in the rucks which meant no possession, or worse when they had the ball losing it in cheap turnovers or poor rucking. It was a low point to start from.
However the boys slowly stemmed the tide, and late on in the first half decided to pass more which in turn created the opportunity for Jaden Johnson to slice through the Norwich defence, break tackles and then outpace opponents to score under the posts (5:21).
A ‘focused’ talking to by the Coaches saw the boys back on for the second half. Although Norwich scored an early try to take the score to 5:26 there was a noticeable difference as Diss started to be more assertive, win one or two more rucks and get the ball across the team to enable them to use their pace. When they do this no team can touch them. The result – 3 consecutive trys to Diss. The first was the result of turnover ball in a ruck close to the Diss try line. The ball was passed to Jaiden Mutsambiwa who sprinted the length of the pitch with a number of Norwich defenders left in his wake, then converted by Aaron Lochtich (12:26). This was soon followed by Peace Joshua (who could be the fastest number 8 in the region) blasting through and around the opposition to score under the posts (19:26), converted by Santos Ledesma. Finally, Jaden Johnson did his magic again – fed by a ball passed down the line - going around the Norwich defence, and jinking past players to score close to the posts. Unfortunately, the kick to tie hit the bar to deny Diss the tying score (24:26).
The play was much better and the boys started to see and believe they are a dramatically different team than at U13. Norwich were rattled, were getting very worried, and knew that Diss are now their equals and must be taken very seriously. The final passage of play saw Norwich score 3 trys which was a pity when the Diss boys had dragged themselves into the match and with one more try were going to lead. The trys again were down to rucking and the possession that results. Final score Diss 24 vs Norwich 40.
Post match reflections and feelings are both positive and frustration. Positive because of the heart the boys showed to keep going after conceding easy trys was laudable. Equally the latent ability is beyond question and something every opposition coach comments on - teams fear Diss’ pace and ability. However until Diss learn how to hold onto and use the ball then they will never take full advantage of this. Rucking is the immediate challenge, which goes hand in hand with retention of the ball in tackles. The coaches will work with the boys to shore up technique and attitude in rucks and also work to enable improvements in passing, distribution and thinking on the pitch.
Overall a very enjoyable, close match that ebbed and flowed across the game. The boys stepped up and stood toe to toe with Norwich, and for a significant proportion of play were the better team. Norwich may have expected an easy game but one felt they left surprised, a bit worried by Diss' development, and perhaps more critically the potential that exists for Diss to keep going up and up.
Thanks to all the parents and carers that were there – a great turnout on a warm and sunny day. Man of the match was Will Elliott in his first full game, a great job with some telling tackles and fitting right in with the team.
This week we have training on Tuesday and on Sunday.