Match Report
Sherborne School Boys-U18B vs  Canford School
On: Thursday, 21 Nov 2019
Venue: Away

Won: 12-10

The 2nd XV defied dreadful weather, the loss of several key forwards and a partisan crowd to return to winning ways at Canford on Thursday and, in doing so, reversed their recent trend of being beaten in the final stages. Indeed, Marcus Prest's winning try - his second of the match - came with just two minutes left on the clock after Canford had taken the lead themselves with seven minutes remaining. Whilst the scoreboard testifies to a close game, in truth it was not really much of one for the spectators as the pouring rain rendered handling enormously challenging, thereby nullifying much of Sherborne's attacking superiority. That the team continued to seek to run and handle the ball says much for their ambition although it perhaps also points to the need for greater pragmatism, and a little less naivete, at times.

Sherborne started stronger, with some powerful running from Frey Hopkinson and the back row in particular, and we deservedly went ahead when Prest ran onto Raef O'Brien's beautifully-weighted chip to score at the posts for O'Brien to add the extras. To Canford's credit, they refused to buckle and, as the half progressed, they began to gain a foothold in both territory and possession with a good mixture of kicks and powerful drives from close range. Sherborne had their chances too and could, perhaps, have put the game to bed if a second try had followed, but the sides turned around with just one score separating them. More of the same followed in the second half, but the light blues seemed to have built up some dominance when - extraordinarily - they were denied a try as the referee mistakenly stopped play thinking that the debutant George Lewis had scored! In fact, he was five yards short but the momentum in the attack had looked likely to bring due reward. Instead, it was the home side who scored next, and then had a second possible try disallowed, and suddenly the team was staring down the barrel of a third (and hugely undeserved) defeat. Thankfully, it was not to be as excellent team play brought us within striking range again before Prest's dancing feet did the rest.

Given the way the last couple of games have gone, it would be wrong to be too critical of what was a far from perfect performance. Ultimately, in a game such as this, only the result mattered and the resolve that the boys showed to come through at the end was absolutely tremendous. That they had a platform to do so owed much to the fearsome tackling of Lewis and Jamie Jones in particular, some of whose hits were simply massive, as well as some sharp work in tandem around the fringes from Will Austen and Alex Norton, while Jack Rodwell again showed his voracious appetite for the fray, not least when he took on the unaccustomed role of flanker in the second half.

So, just one game remains this season - for many of the side, the last of their Sherborne careers - against Cheltenham on the Lower on Saturday 30th November...

Man of the Match: Marcus Prest - a performance which called the great All Black, Frank Bunce, to mind.

Tries: M Prest (2)

Conversion: R O'Brien