Rockets Off to a Good Start
By Richard Robinson
Great game time for all
Some last minute panic resulted in the game against Beverley Braves, a team from East Yorkshire, beign moved from Sporting CLub to Druids Park. Fortunately the rearranged location was received by all and the Rockets had a big squad of 22 in place for the game including a number making their Rockets Debut. The key objective of the day was to ensure that all players got a good run out and an opportunity to put into practice some of the work that we have been doing in preseason. It was agreed that we would play 3 thirds in order to allow interchanges and to ensure good game time to all.
The weather was great for Rugby, although a little cool for the supporters of this summer game, and the 3G pitch perfect for a good game of Rugby.
The Braves season has already started and their better match sharpness was evident from the kick off, when they chased there own kick while the Rockets let the ball bounce freely, the Braves securing the ball in a strong position. Beverley were set up well and with pace at 3 were able to spread the ball wide to score wide on the left for an unconverted score while the Rockets were still getting to terms with playing the game. Slightly slow defensive line speed was putting our defence under pressure although no one was shirking the tackles, however, we were poor in securing the ball in the tackle and the Braves were able to offload too regularly causing repeated pressue on the defence. However, the Rockets started to come into the game and started to gain good territory although injuries to Adam Patterson (neck) and Jack Cregan (knee) disrupted good attaking moves. Despite great effort the Rockets were unable to cross the whitewash in the 1st third and 2 further tries by Beverley 1st third of the game - Beverley leading 14 nil at the first interval.
With wholesale changes at the first interval the fresh, strong rockets side took the pitch and the intensity of the game increased as a result. The Rockets started to grow into the game. Players were dominating the contact finding the floor and producing great quick ball whcih had Beverly back tracking. Great runs by debutant Ryan Charlton were making great ground and it was fitting that Ryan should get the Rockets on the Score sheet with a strong run from 15m out breaking the tackle and the covering defender to score next to the posts for a converted try.
The defence was on top and winning good ball, with the forwards gaining good ground, leading to Alex Donnaghy slipping a tackle to again score for a converted try bring the score to 12-14 as the 2nd third neared its end. With the rockets again getting good position a great kick by Alex on 5th tackle almost put John Jo Tams in for a score in the corner. unfortunatley from this attack their quick winger was able to exploit a slightly disorganised defence to run the full length of the wing to touch down for a converted try to back the 2/3rds score a respectable 12-20, the Rockets winning this period 12-6 and causing Beverley lots of issues.
Again we rotated the squad to ensure all got at least 20 minutes play, and it was another solid period for the rockets, but a couple of moments of indecision and poor organisation resulted in a cheap try early in the period when an attacking kick went long and the Braves took there 20m tap very quickly and ran the full length of the pitch again while the Rockets defence were still getting back, however, the Rockets came back strong and were putting good pressure on the Braves tryline and the Rockets scored an individual score when Michael Woods was able to jink through for a score to bring the score back to 16-24. However Beverley finished the slightly stronger and were able to complete the scoring with 2 further tries for a 16-32 final.
However, in the game we had shown much promise with spells when we had the opposition on the back foot. Overall it was the Braves better match craft that won the game. But all players showed great promise and all got good time on the pitch. A very rewarding day.
Finally great thanks to Beverley for travelling out of the heartland and giving us a great game, we hope to play a return fixture later in the year. And also thanks for Gosforth RFC and Druids Park for the use of the facilities at last minute which allowed the game to go ahead and the volunteers who provided food after.