Following the narrow defeat in the first game of tour, the Lambs have now played two more games at the Kingswood College 125th Jubilee International Rugby Festival, on Monday and Wednesday.
Unfortunately for the Lambs, Wednesday’ss fixture against Graeme College was another agonising loss as they went down to a score in the last play of the game with the clock thoroughly in the red, losing 19-22.
Monday’s game was a different story, with a poor first half meaning the game against Kearsney got away from them before they had barely touched the ball. However, a strong second half performance meant despite going down 12-54 they won the second half and set themselves up for the game against Graeme College a couple of days later.
In Monday’s game against Kearsney College the boys in pink were three tries down before they really got hands on the ball, with the Kearsney full back, Derek Marshall, having a devastatingly effective game. With all the momentum Kearsney scored three more scores before half time and gave the Lambs a significant hill to climb.
The half time break was much needed and it allowed the leadership group to dish out some tough words, re-focus the philosophy and re-energise the side. It had the required effect as they came out firing, with captain Owen Jones (King’s Macclesfield) leading by example and scoring his 2nd of tour. Kearsney hit back, but Tom Wilkins (Trent College) also got in on his 2nd try of tour, finishing off a phase of play that showed much more of what the Lambs were about, with plenty of offloads and support play breaking up the field and giving the Lambs’ devastating runners space to play.
With the game finishing 12-54 there were plenty of lessons to take from the game for the Lambs, but also some momentum heading into the final tournament game. Angus Fienees (King’s Macclesfield) was named Man of the Match for the Lambs.
Speaking after the game, Felsted’s Tyler Tomlinson, the Lambs vice captain, said:
“In the first half Kearsney came out firing and we had no answer for everything being thrown at us. Our skill level was still not where it should have been, with many basic errors such as dropping balls and missing one on one tackles. However, staring down the barrel of a huge defeat we came out a different side in terms of mentality in the second half.”
“We played some very good Lambs-style rugby of fast and free throughout the whole second half, showing that we can perform against the South African sides we are playing against, leading to us winning the half. It was a much improved second half after a poor first half performance; however full credit must go to Kearsney as they were a strong, organised side who deserved the win.”
With a day off in-between the fixtures, the Lambs boys decided some team building sessions would benefit the side. As ever on these Lambs tours certain players start to stand up and be counted more than ever – Charlie Dearman (New Hall) and George Whalley (Felsted) in particular, and as such they have been added to the wider leadership group for the remainder of tour.
The day off and the team building appeared to have paid off as the Lambs looked like a completely different side against Graeme College – the neutrals also suggesting that the Lambs had coped better with the intense schedule of games, despite the travel and the climate, allowing them to continue playing their expansive brand of rugby.
A tight first half saw the game tightly in the balance at one try a-piece and 5-5 at half time, Harry Finney (Trent College) the try scorer for the Lambs with a pick at 8 off a scrum and pop inside from Owen Jones (Kings Macclesfield). Graeme came out in the second half with more intensity than the Lambs and quickly went 5-12 ahead – but that did nothing but motivate the boys in pink, especially the captain and vice-captains who knew they needed to raise to the occasion.
It was the captain Owen Jones (King’s Macclesfield) who once again led the Lambs forwards, finishing of some excellent Lambs play, assisted by the impressive Harry Finney (Trent College).
This sparked some fire in the Lambs and from the kick off they score what is probably their try of the season so far. The ball moved to the middle where the two vice-captains combined, Jack Trundley (Wisbech GS) making the break and offloading to room-mate Tyler Tomlinson (Felsted) who was right on his shoulder to race 40m and score under the posts. The Lambs now 12-19 ahead.
The Lambs continued to press and played some excellent Lambs rugby, getting held up twice over the line. As they pushed they moved from the right hand corner to the left where they looked to go in for another score. However the Graeme College winger read the wide pass and picked it off on his line, racing 100m to score and bring his team back into the game (17-19).
With 10 minutes to go it was an explosive finale, with the last 5 minutes spent on the Lambs try line. They defended with all the passion and energy that the shirt expects, however, with the clock two minutes into the red Graeme College’s ball retention paid off and they found space in the far right hand corner to sneak over for the final score. The game ended in a gut wrenching way for the Lambs, losing 19-22, but they can be proud of their performance.
After the game the act that shows what the Lambs is all about, and touring, and indeed rugby, was both teams joining arm in arm to thank the 600+ Graeme College supporters who had turned out in song for the game. A sing off ensued and finished with smiles, hugs and handshakes between the two teams. A fantastic way to end the tournament and a memory the boys will never forget.
After the game Lambs Vice-captain Jack Trundley (Wisbech Grammar) said:
“In the first half we started strong with some good phases and keeping hold of the ball – which was a working point for the team. In the second half the Graeme interception set up a tight finish and despite a great five minutes holding on, the penalty’s let us down and ended up with Graeme’s final score.”
“It’s hard to take for the team, but we showed real heart and passion and probably deserved more than we got. We will continue to build and We are looking forward to the final game against Stellenbosch on Friday.”