The Blues travelled to Franklins Gardens in search of their first win of the year. They knew it was going to be a tough test with the host’s backline containing many Premiership players. However, overall the Blues can be satisfied with their performance. The intensity of the defence was huge and the commitment of all 25 players was 100% throughout the game.
The game started at a quick tempo and the Blues conceded two tries in the first ten minutes, both scored by Premiership winger Jamie Elliott, both converted by fly-half Will Hooley. The signs were ominous particularly with regards to the Northampton fullback, Anders Mogensen, who was simply breaking the line at will. The rest of the half was a different matter with the Blues defending well , with centre Heewon Cho carrying strongly in response. Returning Blue Charlie Marr proved his worth at fly-half with some astute tactical kicking which at time was crucial in relieving pressure. Open-side flanker James “Bomber” Harris pulled off one outstanding cover tackle, but eventually the pressure told and Northampton scored once more before halftime, through Elliott’s replacement on the wing Alex Wootton. The story of the half though was the succession of scrums on the Blues line which they defended. There were seven engagements which were defended by the Blues and the final flurry of play before half-time will be fondly remembered by the fans watching. Bob Baker and Nick Gardner’s efforts in the scrums were hugely successful and the halftime score was 19-0 to the home side.
The second half started furiously with Northampton prominent and many of their big ball carriers charging at the Blues defensive line. The introduction of Alex Waddingham off the bench had a big impact with a couple of big hits turning the momentum on more than one occasion. Northampton scored one further try through back-row forward Matt Williams, converted by Sam Olver, but it was the Blues resolute defence that typified the half. Will Rowlands returning to his old Academy home had a monumental game with turnovers, good ball carrying and lineout domination. His success this season shows the benefits of Sean Morris’s hypertrophy blitz programme!
All in all the Blues have something to take away from this game. The determination, character and defensive ability are all there. They just need to refine and execute the attack game in the next couple of weeks, but once again it looks as if they will peak for Thursday 6th December!
There next match is at home on Monday 29th October, when they will entertain local side Henley Hawks, who currently sit atop National League 2 South, with an unbeaten record!
Team Hamish Macdonald, Nick Gardner, Bob Baker, Jason Law, Will Rowlands, Gus Jones, James Harris, John Carter, Stuart Commins, Charlie Marr, Cassian Bramham Law, Gav Turner, Hee-Won Cho, Sam Egerton, Henry Lamont
Subs James Wisson (on for Nick Gardner), Lewis Anderson (on for Hamish Macdonald), Sam Hitchings (on for Jason Law), Alex Waddingham (on for Gus Jones), Matthew Shorthose (on for Charlie Marr), Henry Hughes (on for Cassian Bramham Law), Will Boardman (on for Gav Turner), Jon Direen (on for Bob Baker), Michael Rickner (on for James Harris), Alastair Adams-Cairns (on for Stuart Commins)