Rugby mini marvels

RUGBYLowestoft and Yarmouth Minis travelled to the Norfolk Minis Festival in Diss last Sunday and put in the performances of their season so far.The Under 7s were due to play North Walsham in their first game, but the opposition failed to turn up, so L&Y won by way of a walk over.


Lowestoft and Yarmouth Minis travelled to the Norfolk Minis Festival in Diss last Sunday and put in the performances of their season so far.

The Under 7s were due to play North Walsham in their first game, but the opposition failed to turn up, so L&Y won by way of a walk over. The next game was against Holt who had won convincingly when they visited Gunton earlier this year. However, three tries for Dix, two for Brown and another for Hills brought a well deserved victory by six tries to four. L&Y met West Norfolk in their third game. Dix was again on the score sheet twice, along with Barbor (2), Hills (1) and Read (1) in a close fought game, but L&Y narrowly lost by seven tries to six. With points scored for tries and victories, the rankings came down to complicated calculations, and L&Y missed out on a place in the bowl final on the toss of a coin. This meant another last match against West Norfolk for the Plate. As in the previous games, the boys played their hearts out and good supporting play and some excellent defence work from everyone allowed Dix to cross the line three times, plus more tries for Barbor, Brown and a first try for Healmer brought victory for L&Y. Although Calvert and Collins did not score they played a big part in their team's victory so well done to all.

The Under 8s continued the good form of their younger team mates, with first wins of the season against Norwich and North Walsham, a draw with Wymondham and only losing to Beccles by one try. Top try scorer was Mullen, with nine, followed by Smith and Layton-Bullock with four each, two for Nussey and one for Bitters.

Although the Under 9s lost all of their five matches, they gave their strongest performances of the season, holding Holt and West Norfolk to within two and three tries. By comparison, Holt had won convincingly by eight and nine tries only a few weeks earlier. Baldry and Walker put in crunching tackles throughout, with Walker preventing at least one try by getting between the opposing player and the try line. Stone engineered repeated breaks from scrums, supported by crashing runs from forwards James and Bagley. Williamson found previously untapped aggression to take the ball into tackles and was only stopped by several opposing players at a time, while Norman also stepped up to make several diagonal runs exploiting rare breaks in open play, with support from Powell and Gilgil. If the players can maintain this new level of play then they will have nothing to fear from several touring sides who will visit Gunton in the next few weeks.

Once again, the Under 10s first opposition failed to turn up, but this time it was Norwich conceding the points to L&Y. As with the Under 9s, the Under 10s raised their game for the big occasion, with much tighter games against North Walsham, Beccles and Holt than they had managed previously this season. The first game, against North Walsham, was dominated by driving mauls from both sides. Ryczanowski and Carroll scored for L&Y but North Walsham scored seven for the victory. The second game, against Beccles, brought more open play, which suited the backs of both sides. L&Y scored twice, with their first coming straight from the start of the second half. Beccles started but quick defence by L&Y forced a knock-on. Prettyman, playing his first competition for two years, exploited quick ball from the scrum and the ball was fed through Howe to Baker and then Ryczanowski who darted down the wide channel to score. Having lost to Holt by seven and five tries recently, and fought through two hard games, the Under 10s could have been forgiven for approaching their last game against Holt with some trepidation. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, and the boys saved their best performance to last. L&Y rocked Holt in the first minutes by taking the lead with a try from Pettengell, and stout tackling by all the players meant that L&Y held this lead to half-time. Holt scored to level the match at the restart, but late on Baker got within inches of another try for L&Y when he was bundled into touch in the corner. It looked like the game would end in a draw, which would have been a fair result given the excellent rugby played by both sides, but Holt scored their second in the last seconds to grab the win.

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Festival rules prevented the L&Y 11s and 12s from fielding their usual mixed age group, which has been necessary in friendlies this year because neither age group has enough players to produce a full team. In the true spirit of rugby, the players joined forces with Beccles, who have similar small numbers, to compete as Waveney Barbarians. Despite less than 30 minutes for the players to get to know each other, the boys quickly bonded on the pitch and put on brave performances against some very well drilled teams from Norfolk.