AKS U14s played Birkdale in the 1st round of the Lancashire cup. With a number of players side-lined, it was up to members of the U13 squad to fill those gaps and they did this admirably. AKS started slowly allowing the big Birkdale pack to gain yards and be dominant in the contact areas. This allowed the visitors to turn the all over in their own 22 and finish the move with a try at the other end of the pitch. Moment later AKS bounced back, when from a midfield scrum just outside the 22, Daniel spun the ball right to Reece who released Tom to score in the corner. converted by Daniel, AKS were leading 7-5.
It was Birkdale who dominated the following 15 minutes scoring break way tries from the AKS miss tackles. It was another midfield scrum which got AKS back in to the game as, Daniel passed to Mitchell with Reece hitting a superb line to go in under the post untouched. Converted by Daniel the half time score was 14 points to 24.
Following a rousing speech from Mr Parker, the AKS team sprung to life, upping their work rate up front with Raphie and John in the front row and being more physical in defence. Lead by William Waters whose ball carrying and clearing of the rucks allowed AKS to turn over ball and play on the front foot. In defence Mark, Tommy and Luka were exceptional making a number of tackle which kept the Birkdale runners at bay.
The try of the game was yet to come as the AKS back-line started to dominate from set piece almost breaking free with Mitchell down the left wing. With less than 5 minutes on the clock Daniel kicked a penalty in to the Birkdale 22. Tommy jumped to secure the lineout passing the ball to Noah who moved to ball to Daniel. Seeing the space out wide Daniel pushed a long pass to Mark who drew two defenders and released Luka on the outside. As the winger snatched at Luka, Ellis popped up on the inside for Luka to offload. Using his trademark step Ellis jinked back inside the covering fullback to swan dive over the line right of the post. The conversion fell short in to the wind, but with minutes left on the clock AKS were confident and were seeking the win.
From the kick-off AKS continued to push the ball wind causing the Birkdale defence problems, as Mitchell released Tom and down the left wing the Birkdale fullback made a try saving tackle and turned the ball over. Despite their best efforts AKS just ran out of time leaving Birkdale to take the tie 19-24.
When reflecting upon the game Mr Holmes said “We started too slowly and gifted them the lead, before the team released that we were more than a match for Birkdale. We showed resilience when we went behind and tenacity to keep going right to the end, pushing Birkdale close.
I was extremely proud of the boys efforts and especially the five players from the U13’s who stepped up and showed their quality. The team should take a sense of self belief from this game, which will set them up for the rest of the season and beyond.”
AKS teams are back in action next weekend against Ripley St Thomas.