AK Junior Colts (22) vs Blackburn (12)
Kersal secure a win in a hugely competitive and entertaining match
Two evenly matched teams played out a really entertaining and hard fought game on a really heavy pitch. Blackburn started well showing great determination at the break down, forcing AK to concede three early penalties for holding on. Kersal were not able to keep possession of the ball for more than two or three phases during the opening encounters.
On nine minutes the ball broke loose in midfield which Blackburn kicked into space and chased over the line. AK's tracking defenders looked laboured in pursuit and Blackburn finished off easily to take a 0-7 lead.
AK came into the game from the restart enjoying a period of sustained possession inside the Blackburn 22. Kersal's early sluggishness was shaken off and an increased sense of determination evident in their play. Kersal held the ball for 7 minutes, but weren't able to make the breakthrough until they won a line out on 17 minutes, five metres from the line. Ollie Joyce took a towering catch, something that both he and Luke Daldry did flawlessly all game. The forwards set up a driving maul against a large Blackburn pack, with Tom Sullivan carrying the ball over to score and bring AK back to 5-7.
Kersal continued to have most of the possession and looked the most likely to score, but Blackburn remained resolute and defended manfully to keep the lead at the break.
AK had the perfect start to the second half, Blackburn attempted a deft little chip over the Kersal back line, but Luke Daldry read it and collected the ball with an outstretched arm to flick it in to the path of Tom Gill who raced through to give AK a 10-7 lead. Kersal's determination and confidence was now starting to grow and another try looked like it was coming. On 43 mins debutant Aiden Silgram who had only just entered the field had the vision to pick up a lose ball which Blackburn thought was rolling out of play. With his first touch he scooped up the ball and raced 40 metres to score on the right hand corner to extend the lead to 15-7.
On 49 minutes AK should have increased their lead, but what looked like a straight forward penalty in front of the posts was struck wide. Blackburn started to come back into the game using their powerful forwards to good effect. Against the run of play Christian Jones saw a quick pick and go opportunity breaking through the Blackburn defence making 10 yards, before setting up a quick move for the backs. The ball found the pacy George Walker who stretched the covering defence, opening up the space for the supporting Jay Thompson to burst through and score. Max Brookes slotted an excellent kick from the right to take the score to 22-7. AK thought they'd added a further try when Tom Sullivan broke three tackles and touched down in the corner only for the referee to deem he should have released the ball at the last tackle.
Blackburn didn't give up and played out the last eight minutes determined to claw something back. They got rewards for their determination right at the death following a battle inside the AK 5 metre line. Despite a series of thumping tackles and hold ups on the line AK couldn't keep Blackburn out and they earned a deserved last minute try to finish the game AK 22 v Blackburn 12
Tries - Tom Sullivan, Tom Gill, Aiden Silgram, Jay Thompson
Cons - Max Brookes