27 Nov 2019
Christmas Term 2019 - Sports Report, Week 11

Christmas Term 2019 - Sports Report, Week 11

Wednesday 20th November Rugby : 1st XV v Abingdon, National Cup Rd 4 (a)

If the boys were splendid last Saturday then we were sadly below par for this knock out match away at Abingdon. Much like England in their world cup final, we seemed to struggle to hit the highs of that round three match. The stage was set for a grand spectacle, the pitch and weather were ideal for open rugby but somehow the game failed to deliver with both sides fluffing their lines.

The game started with uncharacteristic unforced errors, which started to build pressure on us as visitors. It meant the game was very stop start with almost no flow and plenty of penalty attempts at goal for the Abingdon fly half. Happily, he had mislaid his kicking boots, otherwise the boys in cerise might have been out of sight by half time. As it was, half time came with the deficit standing at only 1 point with Abingdon leading 15-14. When Canford had the ball and held onto it we made ground and looked threatening, particularly out wide with Thomas Matthews going over and Archie VDF both adding to their season’s contributions, skipper Sykes added the extras.

With half time came a chance to re-assess and re-organise, a boost in energy levels and concentration saw us enjoy better passages of play but still the little technical errors haunted us at the crucial moments, and we could not seem to quite align to the referee’s interpretations. Both these things allowed Abingdon off the hook. Harry Moores made and excellent re-entry to 1st team action and with Josh Davies moving to 13 we looked to have a bit more threat once more. Harry went over in the corner and Sykes did the rest. With 18 minutes left to play, we might have hit the lead too soon. Sadly, after another promising move faltered, Abingdon won a penalty and from ensuing lineout and penalty pressure, went over to wrestle back the lead which they held until the final whistle. The last few minutes did see concerted Canford pressure with Matthews nearly squeaking over for a brace but was adjudged to be in touch.

This game was not symptomatic of the performances the 1st XV have put out this season and, just like England show how difficult it can be to deliver consistently high performances, particularly given the short turnaround and emotional high from the round 3 Seaford game. Hopefully, this match allows us to refocus for the final two Saturdays of the term. Certainly, the final week’s trip to Cranleigh is going to allow us to see if we have learnt the lessons from Abingdon, playing against unfamiliar but fancied opponents away from home, here’s hoping it’s a cracker! L27-21 (PTS)

Thursday 21st November: U16 Girls’ Hockey v Plymouth College (h)

The U16 girls hosted Plymouth College in R3 of the England Hockey U16 Tier 1 Schools’ Championship. In wet and blustery conditions, Canford settled quickly into their rhythm, opening the scoring through Bella Hunter after a sweeping six pass team move which started in our own half. Plymouth played positively too, but the defensive line of Molly Taylor, Rosie Ireland and Charlie Whitmore were impressive in quelling any opposition advances, before distributing calmly into the midfield. Alicia Hudson drove towards the D ten minutes before the break to double our lead, when her powerful shot found the corner. The start of the second half proved to be the key phase of the game. Within four minutes of the restart, we had scored twice more to lead 4-0, to settle the contest. Both goals were courtesy of instinctive Flora Lingafelter finishes, to take the game away from Plymouth.


To their credit, Plymouth continued coming forwards and pulled a goal back, before we went through the gears in the final quarter and scored three more through a Mia White brace and another from Hunter. The excellent Plymouth keeper also made a number of good saves, as our attacking intent was in full evidence. The flavour of the game was very much a team performance – slick interchanges of passing, coupled with determined double team defence, as well as bags of creativity going forwards. Tara King caused havoc on the left flank, whilst Charlotte Brook and Honoré Cutler carried a constant threat all afternoon. A 7-1 victory was just reward for a very accomplished display. A mouth-watering home tie against Millfield in the last 16 awaits, with the date yet to be confirmed. (MDC/EJB)

Lacrosse: 2nd Team v Talbot Heath

The Canford Lacrosse second team set out with determination to redress the balance with Talbot Heath who had beaten them 6-1 earlier in the term. It was clear from the first few minutes that this would not be an easy task. The two sides were well matched but whereas Talbot Heath had some strong cross-country runners on their team, our girls showed that weeks of stick skills practice and more experience of match play gave them the advantage. In slippery, wet, freezing conditions, Canford established a 3-1 lead by half time. Some solid defence play from Laura Driver and Grace Pickup helped keep the Talbot Heath runners at bay and when they did get through the defensive wall, goalkeeper Lily Clarke reacted like a contortionist to keep the ball out of the net. Serena Chamberlain was a motivational captain and contributed two goals to the final 4-2 tally. Compared with the first game between the two teams where the ball was more often than not played on the ground, this match showed a marked improvement in quality and reflected the steep learning curve the girls have climbed since starting the sport at the beginning of term. W4-2 (MXB)

Badminton v Ferndown Upper School (h)

We fielded our strongest possible team (without borrowing players from other sports) against Ferndown Upper, and it was a good thing we did as they were a stern opposition. Although we won 9 out of the 12 games, that was very flattering for us as many games were extremely tight. The pick of the bunch was Ned Potts’ game, as he won a battle of attrition in the end to win 27-25.

The doubles’ matches were just as close. Our 1st pair of JC Zhang and Jonathan Fung, 5th pair of Amelia Green and Izzy Place, and 6th pair of Alex Daniel and Amelia Merrick, won both of their games respectively. The 2nd pair of Finn Pearson and Forest Li and 3rd pair of Alex Young and Tamara ReadWard won their first game, before getting a little complacent to lose in their next one. The Potts brothers of Louis and Ned lost their first doubles’ game, but came back to win the second one convincingly 21-12.

Credit to all the players for focusing in the latter part of the matches to just shade those close games, but if we did not make so many mistakes, the games perhaps would not have been so close in the first place…! W9-2 (OSL)

Squash v Sherborne (a)

A great afternoon of squash on a rainy day at Sherborne and as we had time to spare waiting for other teams to finish, we gave each player two matches. There were some fantastic games that could have gone either way, but the home side just proved a bit too strong across most of the squad. The effort and camaraderie throughout the Canford players was great to see. Player of the day goes to our number one David Offer, who has performed strongly throughout the term and got two more impressive victories, not dropping a game. L10-2 (JRAR)

Rugby v Sherborne

“We was robbed!” How often has this cry gone up from a losing team and their supporters? However, in this case, I think that it is entirely justified.

It was a bleak day and a tough game of rugby – not the prettiest you’ll see, but gripping nonetheless, with the 2nd XV playing with fierce determination and energy on HP, with the vocal support of the 1st XV spurring them on. Sherborne were bigger and stronger, and dominated many of the collisions in the first half, if not all of the game. Canford huffed and puffed, trying to play in the right areas, but didn’t make significant inroads, and were pegged back by handling errors. Sherborne took a deserved lead midway through the first half, chipping and chasing well to score under the posts for a 7 pointer. Canford, however, were dogged and kept hanging in there and eventually built up enough pressure to win a penalty in front, which Oli Taylor knocked over. Four points down at half time, and we were definitely in it.

The 2nd half saw some of the most extraordinary scenes, sadly featuring the referee a little more than was desirable. Having withstood some early pressure, Canford established a foothold in Sherborne territory after good work from Sam Downey, and played them at their own game, chipping through and chasing into the dead ball area. The Sherborne player spilled it; a Canford hand grounded it – a try surely? After a bizarre delay, no try was given. Undeterred, Canford bounced back and got the rewards their efforts deserved. We got close with good carries from the likes of Zach Fenwick and the RobThomas-like Ben Parkin (outstanding again today – surely we have two of the best scrappers on the flanks in Rupert and BP?). The ball was spread and Giacomo Perin finished well with the Sherborne defence stretched.

A famous victory was on the cards, but, in controversial circumstances, Sherborne scored in the corner in the last minute to snatch the win. There was confusion as to whether the ball had been grounded, and despite not seeing the incident, the try was awarded by the ref – a dagger through the heart of the Canford faithful, and defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

Once again, a magnificent effort from the boys, but it was not to be. Unlucky lads. Player of the match: Ben Parkin, L10-12 (PAJ)

Seeking the “Triple Crown” victory against Sherborne to go with previous wins against our close Dorset & Wilts rivals Bryanston and Marlborough, the Colts failed to deliver in an uncharacteristic performance. There was a distinct lack of physicality in the opening minutes and it took a while to get into the game. After some good forward play James Barker went over for the opening score but Sherborne came back through their limited game plan which saw their big forwards drive over from a 5m lineout. Undeterred by the narrow pitch and poor weather conditions, Canford still strived to play exciting rugby and some deft handling saw the ball reach winger Tommy Jack who finished smartly with a great side step to go over for a second try, converted by Roman Gill. The game was becomingly increasingly scrappy and this was playing into the hands of the hosts who attempted to spoil and disrupt at the breakdown.

A 12-5 lead was extended by three points soon into the second half after a smart penalty from Gill but thereafter Canford resembled a team lacking in confidence and structure, not the team who had only conceded two tries in their previous three matches. Poor decision making, technical deficiencies and a distinct lack of physicality allowed Sherborne to dominate and they narrowed the gap to 15-12 with a try from another driving maul. As the minutes ticked by Canford had more than enough opportunity to clear their lines and build some phases but more errors and poor decision making invited pressure and in the dying seconds Sherborne were awarded another lineout close to Canford’s line. The initial drive was thwarted but a series of pick and drives saw Sherborne crash over and claim a three point lead with no time left on the clock.

This was a disappointing loss but one hopes the experience will be an opportunity for learning and allow the Colts to reflect on what has produced success for them this year. There is a County Cup final to build towards in the penultimate week of term and so concentration and application must be optimum in the next ten days or so. L15-12 (MSB)

The U15B match was an excellent game of rugby, seeing fierce competition from two evenly matched sides but Canford’s commitment at the rucks saw them take a deserved win.

Canford started aggressively making their first tackles really count. This put Sherborne on the back foot. Canford took control of the game running several phases with the ball. Following success with the pick and go last week, the boys made good yards with the forward pack. This resulted in an early try for Tristan Fulton. Next, Canford showed the ability to run with the ball in hand. Several phases saw Canford putting the ball through hands across the back line and Tyndale Kwan finished off taking the score to 12-0, Oscar Berridge converted. Sherborne came back toward the second part of the first half. Increased aggression and a few missed first tackles meant that they started to make gains into Canford’s half. This resulted in a try for Sherborne taking the score to 12-5.

After a ‘Parkin pep talk’ at half time, Canford picked up the level of competition in the rucks. The boys again put the pressure on Sherborne by making their first-up tackles. Monty Hooker had scored a third try taking the score to 19-5. Sherborne again responded gaining territory and making it into Canford’s half for a significant part of the final half. A number 8 pick-up from a scrum led to Sherborne’s final try. The score remained 19-12 for the last ten minutes of the game. Canford conceded a handful of penalties, which made it feel as if the game might turn in Sherborne’s favour at the last. Fortunately, Canford turned over the ball, reasserting control and gaining a rightful win. Man of the match, Chris Litchfield. W12-19 (RJR)

Rugby is an unforgiving game. Sport, as they so often say at 6.27 am on the Today programme on Radio 4, really is a metaphor for life. So whilst there are always areas of the game where a mistake can be overlooked, may be trivial or may have little consequence, there are others where a moment’s lapse of concentration or a failure of basic technique can have a significant or even game-changing (pardon for the pun, it this counts) outcome. So it can be, with that fundamental of an invasion game such as rugby with … The Tackle. Sounds like a cracked record? Probably is. Once again for the U15Cs, too many missed tackles in open play allowed Sherburnians the opportunity and space to make real inroads and, ultimately score. The first five minutes set a tone. A good kick-off, chased effectively and a press applied well into Sherborne territory. Pressure applied and aggressive harrying forced mistakes and kept the opposition back on their own 22. Even keeping hold of their ball became a real problem, and a succession of rucks and mauls saw us inexorably moving towards their line. But then; ah! but then … a Canford ball ripped from our player, a break out from deep and those tackles missed whilst the Sherborne player was still short of momentum in a congested area. In a few moments, he was clear and running hard, and with a touch of pace to see him thorough the final defensive line, 700 seconds of Canford ascendancy is replaced by a 7 point deficit in the score line. And thus it continued.

It's strange, maddening and exasperating: all those elements of our game that had been so effective and impressive just a few days before at Seaford seemed to have evaporated from the collective minds of this team. Fluid passing, incisive running and a pack mentality had been the hallmarks in Sussex. Now in north Dorset, and no one is suggesting any lack of commitment on an individual basis, but the whole was definitely less than the sum of the parts. Perhaps the worst thing was the looks of incomprehension on the boys’ faces. Why was it not all going to plan? The good news is that the final whistle went and in a short week’s time, we will all re-join the fray and, with a clean sheet, there is no reason why we cannot re-ascend to those dizzy and exhilarating heights. And if not next week, then maybe the week after.

MoM: Angus Brown - Like all good props, a rock.

Magic Moment Five minutes in, a minor infraction of the laws and the referee blows with arm held out horizontally, pointing our way. B-G calls together an unruly mob of disparate individuals and draws them together as HIS unified pack. As one … with a single beating heart. ‘Crouch … Bind … Set’. And for the first time this season (all prior attempts having failed for a whole host of reasons I do not wish to even remember), we engaged for a LIVE SCRUMMAGE. Having watched the behemoths at the World Cup crashing together like monster walruses in a David Attenborough bio-doc, these youths emulated their elders (but never betters) like young buck stags, learning their craft in the rutting fields of England’s fair woodland clearings. It brought joy to this aged coach’s heart. L29-5 (JPST)

It was a cold start to the match for the U14As as Sherborne were late arriving so kick off was pushed back to 3pm. The match started with both teams fighting for possession and struggling to get clean ball from every single breakdown. Canford were definitely feeling the pressure early in the game. Sherborne had a very strong number 8 who managed to disrupt from mauls and scrums.

First half was pretty much Sherborne’s scoring 14 points and offering great support and continuity while attacking with the ball. Canford tried to contest the ball any time they could, but handling mistakes prevented them from progressing more than 2 phases.

The second half was very close, due to a better response from Canford applying more pressure in defence and forcing more mistakes from the visitors. Both teams played most of the half with 14 players because Ed Timberlake had to leave the match after injury whilst one of the opposition’s players got a sin bin for unacceptable behaviour towards a Canford player. With one more try scored by Sherborne, the final score was 0–21. A special mention this week goes to George Burnell for showing great expertise in finding space when going forwards and delivering great offensive tackles too. (ML) . The U14B team came up against a very strong Sherborne side who had a number of athletic runners. In terrible conditions, Canford struggled to get into the game and Sherborne scored a couple of early tries. Canford had a great opportunity towards the end of the first half and were camped on the Sherborne line but unfortunately couldn’t make the breakthrough to get back into the game. Heads dropped a little in the second half and we conceded a couple of late tries through a lack of defensive structure. The final score 44-0 to Sherborne. (WLA)

For all this term’s sports reports and future fixtures please head to www.canfordsports.com

Sporting quote of the week:

“ You may be better than the rest, but you are not a success until you have made the effort to become the best you can be. “

Mark Burley

Director of Sport

Twitter: @CanfordSport

26th November 2019