Pirates Amateurs (2nd XV)
U15s Italy Tour 2008 ( 26th. - 30th. March 2008 )
Pirates U15s 21 - Regional Selezione Lombardia U16s 29
As we approached the ground on the outskirts of Monza, our expectations dropped somewhat when we saw the condition of the playing field - resembling more of a ' dust bowl' - with barely a blade of grass to be seen!
Our hearts sank further when the opposition appeared! A large bunch of lads, some of which looked much older than their years.
However, within two minutes of play Lombardia attempted to clear their lines from deep in their 22 and were charged down by prop Sam Cartwright, who then gathered the loose ball to score under the posts. Luke Johnson duly converted.
The rest of the half belonged to Lombardia, and saw them run in three tries without reply, two of which were successfully converted. Their talented fly-half proved to be a constant thorn in the Pirates side, although the latter never let their heads drop and played some excellent rugby.
No sooner had the second half got underway, Lombardia increased their lead with a further unconverted try - the Pirates now trailing 7 - 24.The game was in danger of slipping away from the Pirates and they needed to dig deep, and duly responded with a try from flanker Ben Robinson, the conversion successfully slotted by Ben Brooks.
As play entered the last quarter, captain and man-of-the-match Luke Cowan-Dickie crossed the line for the Pirates' third try, again successfully converted by Ben Brooks.
With the Pirates trailing only 21 - 24, the likelihood of a remarkable 'comeback' victory was beginning to look increasingly promising. However, by this stage visibility had become very poor, the floodlights not providing the adequate lighting we are fortunate to enjoy at home - and play was followed largely by tracking the flow of dust clouds!
A promising Pirates break to take the lead, only going astray with the final pass, then saw Lombardia seal the match in the last minute of play with an unconverted try.
An excellent team performance from the Pirates, against a mature and well drilled Italian Regional side, in which a draw would have been richly deserved. Well done guys!
Scorers - tries: Sam Cartwright, Ben Robinson, Luke Cowan-Dickie.
Pirates U15s 33 - Lecco U16s 7
Originally scheduled for Saturday, this fixture was brought forward (due to Lecco's committments over the week-end), thus leaving the Pirates scant time to recouperate from the previous evening's encounter. Scenically, the venue was also quite different - unlike the industrial outskirts of Monza, we were situated approximately 3 kilometers from our hotel base, close to the lake and surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
The stadium and complex was also impressive, though the pitch itself yielded only slightly more grass! One of the Italian rugby officials had seen the previous night's match, and had decided that Lecco's XV were in need of strengthening and had therefore drafted in one or two players.
As dusk drew in and the match kicked-off, it was clear this was not going to be a 'walk in the park!' In fact by half-time the Pirates were only leading 12 - 7.
However, as the second-half got underway, the Pirates really began to take hold of the game. They went on to run in a further three ( converted ) tries without response, and saw the pack linking with the backs beautifully to produce some superb open rugby.
Captain Luke Cowan-Dickie made numerous trade-mark rampages,constantly causing panick in the homeside's defence, and was again nominated man-of-the-match.
Well into the last quarter of play with the match clearly settled, frustration began to seep into the Lecco ranks resulting in their determination to ' exchange business cards!'
It seemed at this point that a resumation of acceptable play was not going to continue, and so with only a few minutes left on the clock the referee wisely took the decision to call full-time.
In true rugby tradition however, any disagreements were left firmly on the pitch and all thoroughly enjoyed the after-match hospitality extended by our hosts.
Scorers - tries: Luke Cowan-Dickie(3), Chris Nicholas, Oliver Badcock.
On behalf of all the boys and parents who were fortunate enough to be part of this thoroughly enjoyable and successful tour ( both on and off the pitch! ) I would again like to extend our thanks to ALL those involved that made it possible.Far too many of you to mention individually - but you know who you are, and so do we!
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