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That was the question in the minds of the parents, as they drove across the eerily fog covered Severn Crossing on their way to the first game of the year at Cleve Rugby – for the Under 9s.  A lot of talk had happened about the size of the Cleve squad (27+), and who they had recently beaten over the xmas break, that it started to put doubt in the minds of some of the parents about whether it would be a successful trip away.  The Kids, however didn’t seem to be phased!

Cleve is a well organised place to go and play rugby, lots of pitches, large facilities and hundreds of kids from many clubs – including our own Under 11s.

Ten of the 9s were present, a couple of stalwarts of the team were missing due to the ever present norovirus.  Shane R exclaiming “Keep that away from my team!” when he heard the virus had arrived in the team. There was one new face in the team, Dan Jones, a new arrival that made an impact on his first day in the Cinderford shirt. The 9s wore their new sponsored shirts for the first time. Thanks to Dodwells for supplying the tops, a nice touch to help motivate the players to keep working hard during their two games.

Game One
The first game was very messy at the start, a lot of infringements by both teams that didn’t get handled by the ref, and Cinderford were slow to start. The game was very physical. A lot of balls were held up in the air by Cinderford and then lost by some great ripping from Cleve. Cinderford were pinned down on their own line a few times but defended well to not allow Cleve to cross to score. Cleve scores came from runs from their own half where the player was allowed to get away due to missed tackles. Louie George and Dan partnered well in the backs, especially as this was the first time they had worked together during a game. Ed had a storming game with tackles coming in thick and fast and a number of good carries.  By the second half the team had remembered what they were there to do and started to play well. The boys did well to win – Cleve swapped their complete team for the second half, but even with the fresh legs Cinderford held them back.

Cleve 2 Cinderford 4
Louie 1, George 2, Dan 1.
(Man of the Match George M)

Game Two
After a short break, and with the cloud parting to show the first blue sky of the year, the boys started their second game. Again, as with the first game, Louie, George and Dan partnered well but were also joined by Lewis B and Ed in breaking through the Cleve lines. The forwards in Tom, Lewis E and Olly drove forward allowing Tom to score twice during the match. The only sub available for the day was used well to give some impact in the game. Cleve were in more disarray in this second game with their kids fighting amongst them selves when decisions didnt go the way they expected. Cleve did, however, win a lot of ball by ripping it from the Cinderford boys hands. There could have been more scores by Cinderford if they could have got the ball to floor and presented well – but that is for games in the future. The boys played well and openly enjoyed the experience with fist punches and cheers when they scored.

Cleve 1 Cinderford 5
Dan 1, Tom 2, Louie 1, George 1.
(Man of the Match Dan J)

Cleve’s Man of the day: George M

In summary it was a great morning of rugby, good defence, great commitment and some vision of flare being developed from the boys. Cleve’s head coach said ” That’s a strong team you have got there, it is a surprise but we needed to get tested by someone. Well done.”