North Bristol U16 v Gordano U16
By Steve Gazzard
Close encounter in first game of the season
The U16s kicked off their season in Almondsbury with a strong squad looking forward to another season of endeavour. The Sharks spectators eagerly awaited the first whistle in brilliant sunshine hoping to see the spirit and ambition of last year continue into 2016-2017; they were not disappointed.
Initial pressure on the Sharks line was resisted in the first minutes with aggressive tackling and good organisation. From a well-constructed piece of forward play the visitors broke out of their 22 for their first foray into the opposition half. North Bristol matched Gordano in defensive commitment and the first quarter was an intriguing battle for territory. Strong running by the Sharks was met with efficient tactical kicking from the hosts.
The final five minutes of the first half featured a try saving Macey King tackle 5 metres out and brave defensive work led by Oli Heaven which kept the scores even. Overall the Gordano tackling and work at the breakdown by all players was up a level on last season and with debutant Morgan Stockford making his presence known and Finlay Lynton-Jenkins regularly knocking people backwards Sharks came out on top in the physical battle. A nil-nil score at half time was a credit to both sides defence.
Sharks kicked off the second half and after five minutes had their first scrum in the opposition 22 and a jinking Isaac Barr run ended with last ditch defensive pressure causing a knock on over the line. Effective tactical kicks by North Bristol put the pressure on Gordano and a turnover on the 22 led to the winger opening the scoring after 10 minutes with a converted try.
Gordano, always trying to run whenever possible, broke out again and Isaac Barr was once again unlucky when kicking on past the last defender on the opposition 22 only to be tackled late. From the penalty Sharks kept the pressure up and North Bristol indiscipline cost them territory and a yellow carded player for a dangerous tackle. From a penalty 10 metres out debutant Jayden Brown made ground supported by the rampaging pack but was held up over the line. From the resulting 5 metre scrum a lack of concentration allowed the hosts to relieve the pressure and kick downfield, finally winning a penalty in the Sharks 22 which they converted. Both teams continued to battle until the final whistle but the score stayed at 10 nil to the home team.