Lancashire Cup U14
Heaton Moor 24 Fylde 29
Windy, rainy, a big pitch that was turning heavier and with one coach putting 3 coats on we wondered what the day might bring. However, a strong squad of true men had assembled, and confidence was high from the last few training sessions that had introduced a few more modes of attack and defensive organisation.
Speaking of defensive organisation our hosts scored in the first minute. The pack played musical statues at the first ruck then it was a case of tickling not tackling as their brilliant runner at inside centre scorched in. Credit must also go to their left wing too as these two lads bagged all their tries with pace and devastating stepping.
Anyway, not to panic as we ran through a few phases and started to make a few dents. Jimmy Stacey broke away and fed Hendo on the hoof and he swatted a few would be tacklers away for the first 5 pointer. By this time the pack had woken up, Mr Ubiquitous Aki arrived first to every ruck closely followed by blindside convert Ollie Greenwood.
Every credit to Ollie who moved from scrumhalf as he fancied getting stuck in – and I thought he had a very effective game. John Murray had got the taste for a bit of pick and go – and fair play I wouldn’t fancy the cinema pick and mix bill for this big tighthead. He made some great hard yards but must be careful to pick at the right time. On a few occasions he turned into John Wayne charging into the mean hombres of Heaton Moor on his own.
No mystery to the next move as its codename was “pass early doors and send Hendo up the middle”. Two perfect passes and a nice angle secured an early brace for the giant centre.
Heaton Moor spilled the kick off and we welcomed Cam Mac in to the game as he flattened the two guys trying to pick up the loose ball. He was joined by the Rolls Royce Merlin engine room of Max Senior and Jack Chappers and Luke Rae had it on a plate. Some lovely hands and great running were only stopped by some super defence and we had a proper game on our hands.
James Peebles and Luka Mihel had come on to add energy to proceedings and once again Luka did some very effective work as the game wore on.
Heaton Moor had some handy big lads in the pack and they scrummaged well – the two fabulous runners have been mentioned and their backs fed them well with quick accurate passing. So, thanks to Jimmy opening his account on the day it was 19-14 (2 nice conversions and a narrow miss from Luke) at half time and the game was in the balance.
So, the topic of halftime was tackling and the extra drive at the ruck – so we could move the ball a bit more effectively. An extra pass from the break down allowed Finlay Clough a couple of great runs and he stepped inside to ensure we won the ball back.
Godders booted a penalty to the 5-metre line and the pack licked their lips. Was it a back-peel or was it a catch and drive? – either way the true rugby purists on the sidelines and in the coaching area edged forward to see one of the greatest sights in rugby. Godders senior looked away.
Unfortunately, the drive went at such a pace we lost control and the gritty last ditch defence won the day. Fear not keen readers, as the back-peel analysis follows later. Young Godders ran a beautiful line to score closely followed by an interception from the pacey Stacey 29-17 – was it game over? Of course not as their brilliant winger deserved the warm applauds from the large crowd to make it 29-24.
Time for the Fylde lads to dig in. Another 5-metre lineout and Dan the Man double tops threw superbly for a back peel, Chappers waded in but the defenders repelled. Luke fed the big runners and finally the rucking was dynamic. Max Senior took the ball and ran with the highest knees since Andy Ripley. He got over the line but was adjudged to have lost the ball as he slammed it down for the winning score. Five penalties followed, and the Fylde boys fell foul of the merry whistle blower as Heaton made their way into the red zone. Wills Guts was having none of it as he tackled the winger and stopped him in his tracks. Harry Tomlinson with two outrageous counter attacks to his name put in a couple of tackles.
Then they tried the close charges, Cam Mac made a double tackle and got the lads going forward, no stranger to a maraud or mud, Iestyn Facey flew in. Heaton steadied the ship and tried again, Chappers gave it the big shoulder, Cam went man and ball. Then they ran at Max, still seething at being denied his first ever try (and a crisp tenner he tells me..) he stopped the move with the tackle of the match – knock on game over.
A splendid game played between the two squads who committed everything, on a dry sunny day it would have been a classic. Many thanks to our hosts, the referee, both sets of very knowledgeable supporters and a shout out to Saif who was unable to play due to injury but still turned up to watch.
Photo above is Fylde U14s v West Park, November 2019.