Durham's U12's Festival was contested between 9 clubs this year after late withdrawals from Alnwick and Westoe. Although there had been some rain during the week the pitches remainded bone dry and provided little cushioning for the fearsome tackling that took place throughout the competition. As with other teams Durham sustained a number of injuries to players during the day which provided opportunities for the whole squad to play their part in Durham securing its 4th trophy of the season (County 7s, Landrover Cup, County Cup, Durham Festival)
The competition had 2 pools of 4 or 5 teams that played round robin matches. The winners of each pool went into the Cup Final whilst the runners-up progressed to the Plate Final.
Durham's 1st match against Hartlepool was a rerun of their pool match, last week, in the County Cup . After a steady start, Adamson and Milbanke scored tries to lead 10-0 at half time. Durham made a number of substitions which took time to settle down and Hartlepool got an early reply in the 2nd half to pull it back to 10-5 before threatening to equalise. Thankfully for Durham, Nathan Dow
scored to regain the 2 score advantage which settled the nerves for the remainder of the game. The Hartlepool try was to be the only try conceded by Durham during this year's festival.
Match 2 against Dunfermline was a brutal encounter. This Scottish side were not familiar with all the rules adopted by the English U12s rugby code but their defense was excellent and was breached on only 2 occasions, 1 in each half by forwards Smith and Winter.
The final pool game was against a Barbarian side consisiting of mainly Middlesbrough and Redcar U12s players. It was a high scoring game but was most noteable for 2 first trys. Harry Escott got his maiden try for the club in his 1st season as he made the score 20-0 at half time. However, Harry's achievement was overshadowed by the last score of the game. Max Weightman, playing at scrum half, picked the ball up from a scrum near the halfway line and managed to wriggle his way through numerous tackles before offloading a pass to Arthur Mason who grounded the ball for his 1st competitive try in the 8 years he has been at Durham. The cheer was heard around the ground 'Arthurs scored!' and all his teammates converged to congratulate him. Arthur's dad John was equally ecstatic as he jumped on the sidelines.
After the excitement of the final pool game it was back to serious business of a final against Morpeth who were out for revenge following defeat in the Landrover Cup Final to Durham. Durham got off to the best possible start with 2 devastating runs and tries from Nathan Dow
playing at outside centre. Morpeth came back into the game and dominated possesion for the rest of the half but failed to score. This continue into the second half with a last gap tackle at the corner flag from Max Weightman preserving Durham's lead and it was only fitting that Max should find a way through and score the third and decisive try to win the competition.
Jamie Adamson, Keiran Avis, Joe Bellis, leo heslop
, Adam Hill-Buddington, Cameron Innes, Arthur Mason, Oliver Smith, Tom Tyrrell-Edwards, Alex Winter
, Declan Egan-Jones, Harry Escott, Nico Goeta, William Hodgson, Matt Jackson, Robert Milbanke, Adam Morris, Robert Tomlinson, Cameron Valence, Max Weightman,
Order of score
Pool Match 1
vs Hartlepool, 15-5
Half Time: 10-0
Pool Match 2
vs Dunfermline, 10-0
Half Time: 5-0
Pool Match 3
vs Redboro Barbarians, 40-0
Half Time: 20-0
U12s Durham Festival Cup Final
vs Morpeth, 15-0
Half Time: 10-0