The very brief period, which constitutes the U16s’ season, got underway on Sunday morning, as part of the Red Devils’ Season Launch, and curtain raiser to the first team home friendly with Swinton Lions, when the Red Group of the squad (not Black as previously reported) played their part in what proved to be a highly successful day, by starting off with a win.
For Player Development Manager, Danny Barton, this was all most gratifying, as he watched his players earnestly endeavouring to bring the elements, on which they have been working, into a game situation.
“Obviously you don’t expect too much from them in their first game together,” he confides, “ and it did get a bit scrappy at times, but it was really good to see the way the lads turned up for one another, remained positive throughout the game, and stood shoulder to shoulder against the opposition.”
A much larger crowd than might otherwise have been expected, including a number who had travelled down from Cumbria, gathered along the touchline and spurred on the players from both sides, in this the first match to be played under the new game structure at this level, which involves four quarters of twenty minutes each, instead of the traditional two halves, and, as might be expected, this had its own impact upon the game.
“It was quite strange, really,” comments Danny, “because it made the game seem longer than normal. It was probably due to the fact that there are three stoppages in which to speak to the lads, whereas we are used to having just one. That is good though, because they get a rest, and you can give more feedback to them.
“ It’s a learning curve for me at the moment though, in knowing just how much information to pass on and how much to hold back for later in the game. There was definitely evidence that the players had listened on each occasion, and had then, immediately afterwards, gone about adapting what they had been doing to take account of what they had been told.”
As things panned out, the Red Devils got off to a good start, running in four unconverted tries without reply to put themselves in a fine position to control proceedings from then on. Goal kicking, however, proved to be rather tricky in the windy conditions, and only two attempts proved to be successful.
“Having access to the whole squad, and the obligation to ensure that every player gets to play, also requires careful management,” Danny considers, “and to a certain extent continuity of play suffers as a result, particularly for the half backs, who crucially have to have a good understanding with each other.”
Having made the journey all the way from Cumbria, the visitors were not going to succumb without a fight, however, and they rallied well in the later stages of the game to pull the score-line back to just four points by the end.
“At this level it is the progress and development of the players which is priority, and we shouldn’t be overly concerned with any of the results,” Danny clarifies.
Next Match (Black Group) at Home, Sunday 28th Jan v Featherstone