Whitchurch Festival 0 - Sandbach 1
Sun 29 April 2007
The season didn't just finish on a high note but with full orchestra accompaniment as it all came down to a winner takes all final match against Whitchurch at their festival.
To get to this stage we had to play three very good teams with everyone playing fast flowing rugby, a pleasure to watch.
Game 1: Oswestry 0 - Sandbach 4.
The only points of concern were for winning with tries scored being the order of the day. From the off the team were straight into their stride and dominated the first 7 minutes. Everyone was up for the season closer and tries from George, Robert and Danny in the first half gave the platform on which we were to build for the rest of the day. Each half was being treated as a new game and the second 7 minutes saw Adam pop up from nowhere to score in the corner with a determined run. The team have been threatening to play like this for a while now and turned in a great performance to start with.
Game 2: Newport 0 – Sandbach 2.
Some changes to the team but with the same explosive start. Straight away Newport were on the defensive but showed grit and determination in their tackles. By now we were playing some lovely rugby, taking the game to Newport, and were rewarded with a try in the first half by George. Nobody could afford to be complacent and the second half saw the ball moving down the line from hand to hand. Rucks were being won and the driving mauls were making huge gains at Newport’s expense. It was only a matter of time before we scored again and this came courtesy of Joe Jackson, cutting back off the left foot to dive over. Two games gone, two to go.
Game 3: Shrewsbury 0 – Sandbach 0.
Having watched Shrewsbury’s previous games this was always going to be a difficult game. And so it proved with a zero score line for both teams. What the score line didn’t show was that this was by far the hardest game of the day, and that is meant as no disrespect to the other teams. This was a hard and bruising encounter with both teams taking no prisoners. No team got the upper hand. We had a penalty 5 metres out from the Shrewsbury try line at the death but were twice held up by sheer numbers on the whitewash.
Game 4: Whitchurch 0 – Sandbach 2.
Shrewsbury had just completed their last game which gave us the advantage of knowing that everything rested on the outcome of this, the last game of the age group. It was win time. At the huddle before kick off we spoke about the season, how we deserved to get something from it, deserved to get something from the day, for the supporters who followed us week in week out, for the Club, but ultimately for themselves. The next 14 minutes would see each player, the whole squad, step up to the mark and be countered. As the sun beat down, just as it had all day, we charged out of the blocks. Where nerves once would have crept in a belief took their place. Where panic once would have set in, a calm collective took over. Scrums were being won, lineouts were being won, our backs were passing the ball to hand and it was sticking. It was a tough first half. George got the breakthrough try and half time came. The job was only half done. Thoughts of winning were dispelled as we set the try count back to zero in our minds and went out to “win” the second half. From the touchline it was hearts in the mouth time. The vocal support coming from the Sandbach Army was ever increasing in volume. Whitchurch were throwing everything into the last 7 minutes of the season. But our defensive line held fast, then the ball broke for us. We rushed up the pitch on legs being pumped by adrenaline, Danny got the ball and in what seemed like slow motion touched down in the corner, then Chris floated, the picture has to be seen to be believed. One minute of pressure was soaked up and then the final whistle went. Euphoria.
There were no individuals today, this was a team effort. But we played 13 on our side today, twelve on the pitch with vocal support being the 13th man. The encouragement coming from the sidelines certainly helped and kept lifting the team to play on. And with this the player of the day award goes to that vocal support. You were truly magnificent.
A big thank you also goes to Whitchurch for organizing the days events, making sure that it ran smoothly, and maybe having a hand in the corking weather that we had. A big cheer and pat on the back for all our opponents today as well, you certainly made it hard for us.
And who could not help but feel proud of the team when Megan picked the trophy up and, with medals about the necks, lined up for that Champions photo.
Whitchurch Festival U11 Winning Squad: Joe Stock, Anthony Dowell, Adam Lockett, Cameron Rae, Jake Harrison, Ashleigh Walton, Megan Standring, Robert Coggon, Thomas Cree, Danny Owen, Joe Jackson, George Beal, Chris Jackson, Alastair Thompson, Nathan Norwood, the Vocal Support.