After the last game against the UBC Old Boy Ravens it would have been difficult to imagine any other U-16 game being able to match that event in thrills, excitement and anxiety all rolled into one. However the game against the Meralomas U-16 probably surpassed that game for just those things.

The team that played against the "Lomas" was certainly different to the team that played against the Ravens as many from that game were on tour in either Australia or the UK. However the players that turned out today certainly received and deserved the applause of the Abby supporters for taking over from their "touring team mates" and playing some excellent rugby to win a game that until the last 15 minutes was swinging one way and then the other. 

So to the game. It was a bit of a nervous start for the Abby team as dropped balls led to an initial scrum on the Abby line which could have resulted in a Lomas try but for excellent defensive work from the back line and forwards that eased the initial pressure that was being exerted by the Lomas team. Dropped balls and turnovers in the tackle  plagued the Abby team for much of the game and is certainly something to work on in coming practices.

The first try of the game came following some excellent concerted forward play from Abby which resulted in a penalty about 15 metres out from the Lomas line. Max Goldman produced what was almost a mirror image try of the one he had scored in Abby's previous game as he took the quick tap penalty and was able to cross the line closely followed by a number of his forward colleagues. Quick thinking with a good result !! Rhys Griffiths was close but not close enough with a difficult conversion attempt. It looked like Abby were now on course to put some points on the board but Meralomas responded with 2 individual tries from their backs. After these tries were given up the Abby team might have wished there had been more tackle practice on Thursday nights !!!

Having said that the Abby boys continued to show enormous effort and they looked capable of scoring additional tries if the ball could have been worked out quicker along the back line where overlap opportunities were missed. All the superb effort by backs and forwards finally paid off when Hayden Mowbray was able to carve out an opening in the Lomas defence and as he took a great curved run around the final defender his team mates and supporters cheered him on. Rhys Griffiths was able to add the conversion attempt from a fairly difficult kick. The first half was an evenly balanced game which Abby won on the amount of possession they had had but not for the number of points on the score sheet.

Half time Abbotsford U 16's  12      Meralomas U 16's 19

Supporters were concerned following another individual try by the Meraloms following the resumption of the second half. This left the U 16's with an uphill task as they trailed  by 2 tries and 1 conversion. Following their conceding this try the young men from Abby could have been seen as being down but they were most certainly not out as they came back full of renewed energy with some concentrated, hard fought but simple rugby that helped them retain possession and enabling them to gain ground. This was shown with a great effort by Hayden Mowbray for his second try of the game in the corner following some neat forward play and effective rucking. Rhys Griffiths was unable to add the convert.

The ability of the team to play some of this good rugby was finally shown in the last 15 minutes of the game when the Lomas believed that they had the game won. These last 15 minutes produced the best team effort of the whole game resulting in excellent tries by Hayden Mowbray and Doug Saunders under the noses of the Abby supporters and coaches. Hayden was able to complete his hat trick with a superb effort to cross the line beating a number of players in the Lomas defence with his speed. Credit should also go to forwards and backs who combined in the previous play to give Hayden the space to jink his way to the line. Rhys Grifiths was able to convert the try with a superb conversion kick from close to the touch line with a difficult angle included.

That set up the game with a finale finish as the score line read    Abby 24      Lomas 24    with just 5 minutes until the ref was supposed to blow the whistle. This truly brought out the best in the team as they were virtually camped in the Lomas half for these final few minutes with bodies being put on the line in hard hitting but fair tackling. The forwards once again began to show their ability with some good ball retention and excellent line out and scrummage work as they had displayed in periods during the first quarter of the game. This was shown more clearly than ever after a well won line out and drive resulted in a  scrummage to Abby about 10 metres from the Lomas line. The ball was taken against the head by Kayden MacDonald and an excellent drive by rest of the forwards allowing Jackie Hyunh, playing in his first game for the club ,to create an opening for Doug Saunders to dive in close to the corner whilst carrying 2 Lomas players on his back. An excellent team based try. Rhys Griffiths was unable to repeat his previous conversion from virtually the same difficult angle.

Following the final restart Abby once again were able to put pressure on Lomas with a penalty for the U 16's being awarded. The ball was kicked into touch and that brought the final whistle and the end to a very entertaining and thrilling contest.

Final Score Abbotsford  U 16's  29   Meralomas  U 16's   24

Abby finished as deserved winners outscoring their opponents by 5 tries to 4 and taking their unbeaten start to the season across the border to Ferndale, Washington to play against the also undefeated U16's of Chukanut rugby club. this match will be on the 22nd March. U 16's take note. Some hard work is required in tackling, ruck play and defence in the practices before the trip across the border !!!

Everyone played a fantastic game for the U 16's and there were a number of possible candidates but the Man of the Match award goes to Hayden Mowbray for his hat trick of tries. Congratulations Hayden but also congratulations everyone on earning  a hard fought win !!!!

Gareth Griffiths

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