28 January 2023 Colts Game Report: Corsairs 24-31 Derby

Derby Colts travelled the short distance to Nottingham to take on fierce rivals Nottingham Corsairs.

It turned out to be an extremely competitive contest between two very evenly matched teams who were both keen to play open attacking rugby.

Derby had the early ascendancy and were unfortunate not to take the lead when fullback Harry Cook was unable to take a slightly misdirected pass to score in the first 10 minutes.

Nottingham hit back with powerful bursts by their inside centre leading to two scores out wide from their pacey outside backs to take a 12-0 lead.

Derby then produced an excellent try of their own with centre Tom Pickering sending a pinpoint 20m pass which allowed fullback Cook to fade outside his marker and use his pace to finish from 25m out. The game then entered a scrappy phase with Nottingham having the upper hand before they scored a slightly fortuitous try to take a halftime lead of 19-5.

Derby set about their task in the second half with renewed vigour. The front row of Hinks, Harriott and Warrilow-Mcginn stood firm against a powerful Nottingham front row and Derby had the platform for the irrepressible Joe Acton and Harry Warham to launch the hard-running Pickering and Archie Murdock in the centres to repeatedly punch holes in the Corsairs defence. After a series of sustained drives on the Corsairs line led by the tireless Luke Preston and snarling Tom Ayling ably backed up by the industrious back row of Perry, Clarke and Bennet, Acton was able to force his way over from short range to make it 19-10. A shout-out too to Sam Bowbanks and Jake Smithson who added some much-needed impetus when Deby needed it most.

Nottingham responded with an attack of their own and despite a desperate cover tackle from Bennet there was enough support on hand to score and take the score to 24-10.

With time running out the game seemed done and dusted. Derby, however, had other ideas. In a stunning denouement, Derby scored 3 converted tries in the last 7 minutes to take the spoils. First Tom Pickering muscled his way over from short range after another assault by the forwards on the Corsairs line. Fred Sutton held his nerve to convert to make it 24-17.

Then straight from the kickoff Fran Town who was seemingly inspired by his recent skiing trip and had thrown in more swerves and side steps during the game than an Alberto “La Bomba” Tomba slalom run helped launch a sweeping attack from Derby’s 22 led by offloading from Preston and Harriot but involving almost every player in the team first from one touchline and then to the other for an incredible score.

Again, Sutton held his nerve to make it 24-24 and an honourable draw seemed the inevitable result!! But Derby would not be denied. They repeated the dose and again swept the length of the pitch and in the act of scoring Will Perry lost control of the ball which luckily landed in the arms of Joe Bennett to score under the posts. Sutton converted to make the final score 31-24.

A fantastic effort from both teams and a real treat for the Derby supporters who will long remember the miracle at The Bay.

Ps. highlight of the day would have been between Andrew Harriot’s crunching 1st half midfield hit or Harry Cook’s imperious 2nd half 50/22, but in the end it could only be Will Perry’s magnificent 6-inch dive for a phantom try on the 5 m-line from the back of a ruck. Forza Peza !!!