U18s - Fabulous Final Flourish
...County Plate Champions
After coming second best in this fixture for a couple of seasons and then the drawn encounter against DRFC last year, it was fitting that the final game as junior/colts would be a victorious one. It came as a surprise that the fixture was taking place as the team had folded in the autumn as a combination of work, study, wine, women and song had conspired to see the boys go their separate ways. However, as other teams had done likewise, and being the away team in a couple of 'fixtures', it came to pass that an evening game in the arena against a Consett side would be a surprising but fitting end.
Although the scoresheet didn't necessarily suggest it the first half was a pretty even affair, with the boys in blue and white probably having the upper hand on the possession stats. Scrum time was a lockout with both teams reluctant to take a backward step. The home front row of Freary, Birch and Haithwaite providing an immovable collective object, their hind quarters anchored by the second row pillars of Hunton and Seaman and the back rowers of Strejic, Thubron and Brown ready to fly off in defence or attack. The first try came from good work by the forward pack going through the phases and looking after the ball until the half back combination of Hunter and Hoyt called time. The ball was shipped from left to right, initially through the line breaking hands of Randle and then onto Boddy to fend off several would-be challengers to go over the whitewash. A second try would follow not long after, with a similar move resulting in Hunton finding himself out wide, but with still plenty to do, and he fended off a number of potential defenders to go over for the five. The opposition did launch a number of their own attacks and from one of these they were able to add a score of their own, credit to their kicker who knocked over a couple of pearlers in either half. The scorer was still not able to rest on his laurels as a terrific show and go from Hoyt in the middle of the park was enough to give him the space to burst through for a try. The score at half time, 15 - 7.
The second half was a much evener encounter, with Consett in particular piling on the pressure for the final twenty minutes. This was only after Boddy had matched his first half try with another hard charging line breaker into the opposite corner. It also wouldn't have been an U18s game without Brown breaking off the back of a scrum to burst through half of the visiting pack to score. The Consett fightback was ignited by their own score and it was obvious that they had been playing for a full season as the boys in blue and white were blowing. The home side was saved more than once by some great defensive work on the wings by Bracken and Walker, with fullback Winter weighing in with a couple of his trademark defensive 'big hits'. The replacement which saw Max enter the fray gave the boys some welcome fresh legs and the whole team gave a monumental backs to the wall defensive display to see out the game and signal scenes of jubilation!
A mention to Glenno who was an integral member of the team and turned up to cheer the boys on, he couldn't play as he has gone to the dark side (DRFC)!
Commiserations to Consett, but they can take pride in a cracking performance and their part in a great game.