Bracknell U14 1st XV Berkshire League 1 Champions
Bracknell Rugby Club's u14's 1st team faced a strong and physical local rival's Abbey on Sunday at Lily Hill for the penultimate game of their league campaign.
With both teams having demonstrated their continual improvement throughout the earlier fixtures it was always going to be a thrilling encounter and the result of this eagerly waited game would decide the winner of the Berkshire U14 Division 1 league.
Bracknell took the tactical advantage and chose to play uphill in the first half and from the first whistle they dominated possession and the Bracknell forwards made ground and applied extreme pressure to a shell shocked Abbey. The visitors attempted to break out of their half but on every occasion a Bracknell player would make a superb tackle and the dominant forwards would provide support and the ball would re-appear in Bracknell hands.
Towards the end of the first half Bracknell won a penalty and sensibly opted to take the points and it was slotted in a clinical fashion, 3-0 to Bracknell.
The second half saw wave after wave of attack from the visitors yet they could not break through the Bracknell line and as each minute ticked away the home side grew in belief and confidence that the game was turning in their favour.
A surging run by the Bracknell forwards was held up short of the line and a penalty was awarded against a Bracknell player for not releasing the ball and Abbey kicked the ball into touch to relieve the pressure.
What followed was a period of pressure which saw the visitors pressing deep into the Bracknell half and with each player throwing themselves into every tackle with 100% commitment the visitors were prevented from scoring. After a few minutes of intense pressure Bracknell were penalised and with the penalty in front of the post it seemed that all of the hard work was going to be to no avail as a draw would see the visitors being crowned champions. However, inexplicably the Abbey scrum half decided to 'tap and go' and was quickly hauled down by the surprised home team. After a few nail biting minutes the referee announced it was the last play of the day and after a Bracknell line out which was initially lost but then turned over by the forwards, the ball was kicked into touch and the impressive home side secured their first ever league championship title.
Head coach Paul Hayhow said, 'It was a fantastic game and the commitment shown by each and every player was incredible and it was great for the boys to play in front of a huge, noisy crowd who kept them going. The pace of the game was of a different class to any of the games we have played before and the players not only stepped up to the mark they went beyond it and thoroughly deserve the title of Berkshire League 1 champions.'
The team can now look forward to their annual tour over the Bank holiday weekend when they travel to take on some of the top Welsh sides in the respected Abergavenny festival.