Diss U14's - Ipswich 7's
By Peter Allott
Outstanding performance to end the season
The U14's travelled to Ipswich to take part in the Rio 7's tournament. We took a squad of 12 players for a format that had two pools of 6 teams from which the top 4 qualified for a final. The boys were up for the challenge having benefited from a good amount of 7's training plus their coaching from Leicester Tigers and the Diss first team coaches.
The weather was challenging with squalls coming in and it was good to see Captain Charlie North making smart decisions when to play with the wind and hail at our backs and when to face into the sun. Clever work.
Match 1 vs Mersea - the boys started like a house on fire with quick passing, great support play and robust tackling. With all the pressure it was no surprise to see a steady stream to trys for Diss (9 in total) with only one from Mersea. Great start and a perfect example of what they can do when they play as a team - keeping play tight, not making errors. The victory was well deserved.
Match 2 vs Sudbury - a step up for the boys and one they rose to. Starting where they left off in the last match the boys kept a high tempo and tackled well to keep the ball. Scoring went to and fro, but Diss always had the upper hand. Although Sudbury scored 4 trys Diss scored 6 with bonus points as well. With the final whistle the boys were deserved victors.
Match 3 vs Ipswich - playing the home team had a number of challenges. The boys were more than capable of winning this match simply by doing what they had done before, However silly errors - a missed tackle, suicidal pass - gifted Ipswich easy trys plus the home team having the 'rub of the green'. The boys applied their pressure and were able to score, however in the end it was not enough and they lost by one try. Frustrating as the result felt like one that was given away rather than lost - concerns that have dogged the season.
Match 4 vs Colchester - the last pool match and probably the hardest the boys faced. 3 of the opposition boys were massive - wide and tall - and the boys quickly had to learn how to deal with 'crash ball' from someone significantly larger. To start some of the tackles were half hearted and resulted in trys for Colchester. The good news in the boys learned, knew what was coming and 'faced into the storm'. They committed to tackles and it worked. They stopped the one strategy Colchester had. With our pace, good passing and clever movement we matched Colchester try for try. And once the defence was in place we were the only ones scoring. Well done and some brilliant team play. The result - another Diss win.
So 4 matches played - 3 wins. It meant that Diss were tied 1st in their pool. Unfortunately we were placed 2nd on try difference to Ipswich !!! Would have been different had the boys managed to grind out a victory in that match.
So onto the final for the 2nd placed teams in each pool - against Norwich. Unfortunately the tank was empty for the Diss team and they did not cope with a Norwich team that were a little quicker and better organised. It was disappointing and sadly familiar with a number of matches in the regular season as the boys lost their shape and discipline. They stopped doing the things that had learnt them success in the previous matches. Hopefully a lesson to take to U15's.
So the season ends with this very encouraging and very enjoyable day. It has been a tough season and with many of the U14 teams developing and moving forward while one felt the Diss boys were treading water when it came to working as a team and an effective unit, rather than looking to be the individual and hero. However the 7's showed that they can do it and succeed. They were competitive across the tournament and played with real flair. They passed, they supported each other, they tackled and they communicated. Their coaches should be very proud of this performance as I hope they were.
We move to U15's next season so let's hope the lessons stick and the boys retain some of the lessons over the long summer break. Thanks to all the parents and supporters who travelled and sheltered under umbrellas. A fun day, and a team to be proud of.