U12s Festival day at Preston Grasshoppers

Sedgley teams win 2   lose 3 and draw 1 with an aggregate score of 15-8

Sedgley U12 were playing in the fourth Annual Festival of Mini Rugby at Preston Grasshoppers.

The First XV pitch at this venerable club is now a 4AGP construction which combined with a dry day promised a good running surface.

The Festival rules dictated that the matches would be played for 12 minutes per game, with no half time. 11 players a side. Rolling substitutes were permitted.

There was a good Sedgley turnout of 23 players (from 24 possible).

In the spirit of Kids First the teams were split into two squads which played alternate matches. Substitutes for injuries were covered from the other squad.

The Lions squad consisted of; —–Ben, Gabriel, George, Jack Sweeney, James, Max S, Mikey, Nathan, Noah, Seth, Tommy and William.

The Tigers squad consisted of; —–Chaz, Connor, Danny, Harry, Jack Stevens, Jedi, Luis, Max C, Ollie, Patrick, and Sam T.

Match 1             Liverpool Collegiate 1—-1 Sedgley Park Tigers

Scorer; Sam T (1)

Liverpool Collegiate were an unfamiliar opponent so there were no predictions for this one. Sedgley started strongly with a lot of the early possession. A fine cross field move through the hands was delivered to Sam T who went over to open the scoring. As the game went on the Collegiate began to step up the pressure on the Tigers and enforced errors crept into the Sedgley game. Ball retention became an issue and Collegiate began to move up the field. The teams had some unnecessary scrum practice as they were reset two or three times close to the Tigers line. The Liverpool pressure finally produced results as they went over for the equalising try. With the Collegiate in the ascendancy Sedgley did well to keep them out and come away with the draw.

Match 2                 Vale of Lune White 0—-7 Sedgley Lions.

Scorers: Max (1), Danny (1), George (2) James (1) Ben (1) and Tommy (1).

The Vale of Lune team were a bit of an unknown quantity, as the boys from Park Lane have only played them once since this reporter has been going to these games. They had 2 teams entered in this tournament, the Whites and the Reds. The Tigers were against the Whites.

Sedgley kicked off the game. You could see from the initial skirmishes, that the Tigers were eager for the battle. They swarmed around the opposition with gusto, hunting for the ball and putting a lot of pressure on the Vale of Lune. Noah was to the fore, he turned over opposition ball and had the vision to pass to Max who opened the scoring. The next score came from a rampaging run from Nathan who made great inroads into the opposition half. After a number of phases and some desperate defence, the Vale of Lune boys scrambled the ball back on their side, and hurriedly kicked long. Normally this is a good ploy if the chase is good and the ball does not go to George. Regrettably no one told Vale of Lune that you need to get both of these things right. The chase was good but unfortunately the ball went straight into George’s hands. He ran it straight back, beating a few defenders before offloading a splendid pass to Danny, who had a clear run to the line. The next try came from the result of a wonderful turn of speed from Seth, which left the Vale of Lune struggling to get hold of the Sedgley speedster. Eventually he was halted close to the line, the ball got recycled. The Vale of Lune players were struggling to realign and George took advantage of the disarray and got a deserved try. James then got in on the act with a weaving run close to the line. Sedgley were totally dominant now, and this gave a lot of confidence to the entire team. Next up was Ben who scored a well worked try in which he accelerated away from a despairing defence leaving them fading in his rear-view mirrors. Tommy must have felt left out because when he took the ball, there did not see seem much on. However there was a purposeful, determined look on his face and he went on a demolishing run, in which he brushed each brave defender aside with ease.

Overall this was a really good team performance reflected in the numerous scorers.

Match 3                 Manchester 2 —1 Sedgley Tigers

Scorer:  Danny (1)

Manchester players carried letters rather than numbers on their shirts. James Bond aficionados will have noted player Q—-obviously the man in charge of the high-tech armoury! Once again, the Tigers started off well, showing resilient defence against the Red and whites. In attack there was some great re-cycling of scrappy ball to provide Danny with the opening, which he converted into the first try. The rugby was now fast and furious with thunderous tackling being counterbalanced by flowing passing. Out of a melee, a loose ball was picked up by a Manchester player and the break was on to turn it into an equalising try. Manchester were now applying the pressure and with the final whistle barely seconds away, danger man Q popped up to steal the game for Manchester. This was a really hard-fought game between two committed teams.

Match 4                 Preston Hoppers Green 0—-4 Sedgley Lions

Scorers: Noah (1), George (1), Ben (1) and Tommy (1).

Next up were Preston Grasshoppers and Sedgley kicked off again. The way the games were formatted this gave Sedgley a helpful advantage, they kicked deep into the opposition half and because their defensive game is exceptional, they can put a lot of pressure on the opposition teams. The first 2 tries, scored by Noah and George, were down to fabulous counter rucking, especially by immense Mikey, as he cleaned out the ruck with tremendous power, resulting in turnovers for Sedgley. Tommy got another try, but the highlight was the interplay between Ollie and George before George offloaded it to Tommy. Ben was again on the score sheet but it was the counter-rucking from Mikey again which turned over the ball to Sedgley.

Match 5                 Waterloo 2-1 Sedgley Tigers

Scorer; Danny (1)

No Festival/Tournament is complete without a game against Waterloo. They are always comfortable with ball in hand and have a great competitive ethos. Once again the Tigers started off on the front foot and a powerful drive looked to be heading for the opening try but it was held up successfully. A free kick was quickly taken and moved across the line to Danny who charged over for the first try. Sedgley were containing the Seasiders with some resolute tackling. As the midfield area became ever more congested good possession was a rare commodity. Waterloo were quick to the tackle and always dangerous. One of their quick breaks found men over on the outside and they went in for the equaliser. Their star player Reece had played a steady, unspectacular role throughout the game, but suddenly had his magic moment, cruising across the field and the straightening up to split the Tigers defence and score as the whistle went for full time.

Match 6                 3rd place play off.               Kirkby Lonsdale 3—1 Sedgley

Scorer;  Tommy (1)

This game was blighted by injuries to both teams. This interrupted the flow of the game but fair play to Kirby Lonsdale as they responded to these interruptions better. They ran out easy winners in the end. Tommy got the only Sedgley score to make the final score 1-3 to the boys from Cumbria. The highlight for the reporter was the 3rd try when one of the Kirby Lonsdale team spotted that their wide player was in acres of space and he put in a magnificent accurate cross-field kick, which was gleefully collected by the winger and he touched down in the corner.

The Kids First approach did not produce an unblemished record of results but allowed everyone to have a great deal of game time. Thanks to the many parents and supporters who were there to offer their encouragement as usual.

Thanks to Preston for hosting the event.

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