Monday, 19 October 2009

An Assessor Calls

A lousy night’s sleep due to a sickly toddler is hardly good prep for my first league fixture of the season, never mind one that learn I am to be assessed on. Knowing you are being judged by someone other the players and crowd (i.e. someone that knows what he is talking about) is excellent for development, at the top of the game it carried out at every game with all the video highlights to go with it.
It was clear before that kick-off that the Home side (Blue) had an enormous advantage up front; their tight-head alone looked like he accounted for half the pack weight. He acknowledged that the visitors (Green) looked a little light and that he would go easy on them. I told him that I was happy for him to dominate, but not destroy; safety first.
Blue started strongly with dominate territory and good forward control, but the Green defence was resolute but they put pressure back on themselves by not find touch with kicks. This was a good deal more edgy than recent games, things simmered through out. An early incident saw Blue winger chip through, and the Green defender stood his ground as the ball flew over his head. Instead of stepping around or running into him Blue nailed him with a huge tackle! Penalty Green tackling the man without the ball, it was dangerous as the defender wasn’t expecting it. Two Blue tries did carry question marks; the first came from a Blue maul 10-15m out, the ball carrier detached from the maul and brushes another player, was it clear and obvious? In retrospect, yes and it should have been a scrum to Green. The next one was a forward pass which I couldn’t see as the defenders were obscuring my view. The assessor confirmed the forward pass but said it was understandable given my positioning which in itself was fine. Unfortunately for Green, they didn’t play the whistle and the Blue run in was easier than it should be.
Half time and the team turned around 17-3 to Blue but there was frustration that they had not got more out of their possession. The assessor introduced himself to me and I was surprised that he wasn’t an old pass-it type that usually carry out these duties. He gave me a couple of pointers for the second half, largely that my kick-off positioning wasn’t good – despite being moved there by a previous assessor and I was told to watch out for Blue 6 in the line out as his elbows and arms where in plenty of places were they shouldn’t be.
The second half started and an early line-out clearly shows the Blue front jumper interfering with Green, but as the ball is going over the top, it’s a quiet word as a run past, “keep your arm to yourself No 6”. A few minutes later it’s a free kick as the arms go in again, and later it’s a full penalty at which point the message gets through. Nevertheless, Blue continues to dominate despite a neat try from Green. A couple of sweeping wide tries finish off the game but it comes at a cost as the penalties against Blue mount, mostly for not rolling away from the tackle and going off their feet. A general warning to the captain is closely followed by a yellow card, though the assessor said this should have come sooner. Not that it mattered as apparently the miscreant managed to slip back the field un-noticed. The final point of interest was a disallowed try as beautiful Blue move was hauled up just short of the line, the Green tackler rolls away and Blue scrambles forward to ground the ball over the goal line. Decision; playing the ball on the ground, penalty Green. Final score, Blue win 32-8.
To be fair, Green were better than the score suggests but their weak scrum didn’t give them a platform and their forwards were too keen to get into an arm wrestle with a much better pack. Despite the niggle, edge and penalty count (17-8 against blue) the feedback from the players seemed to be positive
The assessor had some good feed back for me particularly about positioning at kick-offs and line-outs, which I tried in the second half to good effect. My penalty kick positioning was wrong and this allowed the Blue kicker to bring a touch line kick in 15m and I need to get closer in at rucks give my directions to players and then get out to the short side. Hopefully, there will be enough positive support to get moved up a level at the Christmas promotion board.

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