The second cup game was over at Waterloo Rugby club, the heavy rain both before and during the game wasn’t going to play into the Rochdale hands, a slippery ball and terrible conditions forcing a tighter less free flowing game plan, this game would be won in the forwards.
Unfortunately Waterloo had their own not so secret weapon – a rather large 12/13 year old who towered several inches above the Rochdale players and most of the parents truth be told, the Rochdale players struggled to contain this lad early in the game, sucking defenders in trying to stop his runs, this left room out wide for another tall, rapid number 15 who cut through the backline to score. This cannonball and rapier approach was clearly the basic Waterloo game plan, the question was if we could come up with a solution. Getting two scores ahead early the lads rallied and started to press the Waterloo team, it could be argued that again we were kicking too much attacking ball away, however Calum managed to get a good interception near the Waterloo line to get over to pull one score back.
The defense was in periods much improved than the previous week with Calum, Daniel, Rob, Joe and Johnny back in the side, the team overall displayed a lot more energy than the previous week, again in spells the lads played some lovely rugby; forwards and backs generating quick ball, from ruck to ruck everyone playing their part in terrible conditions the second try came from some belief that they could compete battling up field into the Waterloo 22; Calum cut across the pitch to link into the backs giving Luke a pass for him to get through to bring the teams level. Waterloo scored before halftime helped by some creative referring but we were right in this game.
The second half was a much more difficult affair, the team were getting frustrated at decisions going against them, and they began to drop off intensity and lost focus, losing the territory battle, the Rochdale strike runners couldn’t break through and the lads heads went down. Waterloo took advantage and began to convert their pressure into points. There were a few sparks of defiance late into the second half, the Rochdale scrum started to get dominance turning over the much bigger Waterloo Pack, Luke scored from quick thinking from a Rare Rochdale penalty to tap and go getting over in the corner. But in the end, it was all too little too late Waterloo had turned the screw during the second half and put the contest beyond reach.
The main lesson is that when we play with intensity and clear minds we can compete and win against the best teams in the North West, when we drop off in commitment and focus, allow ‘frustration’ to infect the team - at this level we will get turned over.
The last two weeks have been a lesson and one that we need to learn from, the lads need to realize they are all good enough and when they play as one they are a brilliant team. Let's be the All Blacks not les Bleus, and be on it every week..We need to re-group, re-set and go again.