Our 9 man squad consisted of 2 hangovers, 1 knackered ankle, 1 knackered back, 1 set of tight hamstrings, a recovering shoulder injury, 2 players that hadn’t played league for a couple of years and 1 on a league debut! Should be interesting.
- Went to register the team and was third in the queue, the person at the front was asked how many players they had along, “18” was the answer, next ? “20”! I was asked: I coughed into my hand, “9!” there was a snort behind me, “ I hope your cold gets better” I said as i passed. “16” said a bit too loudly I think.
- Games were 12 mins one way, our first first against Eastern Rhinos, our game plan? Take 1 game at a time and keep it simple. It seemed to work we had a try and conversion within the minute, another try came shortly after so things were looking surprisingly good. Then our luck changed, the ref blew for a penalty, the 1st against us, but then he brought out a yellow card, a sin bin! The players first sin binning in 5 years of playing rugby league and what day to get it! Reason? Doesn’t matter, it confused both teams but it was still 5 mins off the pitch
- Great defensive sets ensued and managed to hold them out until about a minute left of the sin bin when they got a try and a conversion. With squad back to 9, Eagles managed another score and conversion to make it a win. A good start.
- Our next match was against Greenwich (eventual pool winners), only a 5 min turnaround so not much rest time, This game did not leave much between the teams, the question was “hold back and lose this one so we are rested for the last?” If yes was the answer it wasn’t stuck to. Some excellent defensive sets and some great rugby saw the full time score separated by the fact that Greenwich got their try closer to the posts 4-6.
- The team had a well needed rest before their next game against South London Storm, a win and a loss meant we had to get a win to get through to the semis, more importantly could we make it without injuries?
- Once again the lack of penalties against us was a tribute to the lads discipline and a fantastic defence meant that our offence was often starting near the halfway line. This gave us the advantage and tries were the reward! The win put us in the semis, a fantastic acheivment made more so by the fact that out of the 3 games we had only 3 tries against us and no injuries
- Coming in as runners up meant we had to face the winners of the other table, Skolars.
- They had some big lads in their squad which meant it was going to be a physical outing, it was! I was more concerned with watching for injuries that I wasn’t aware of the score until the final whistle went and our lads looked the happiest, another excellent win but it had taken its toll, there were a lot ( well 9) of tired hurting bodies coming off the pitch.
There was a chance to get a breather while the other semi took place between Greenwich and Bulldogs to decide who we had in the final.
Bulldogs it was then.
- The time of the final came and our guys got themselves onto the pitch, game plan? If it aint broke don’t fix it!
- It was probably a good thing that we had missed the announcement, before hand that the final was going to be a 15 minute game. But they got down to the job in hand and again defended excellently, quick plays of the ball kept catching the bulldogs off-side and the advantage was ours. We got the first score, then a slight defensive error on our part let the Bulldogs in. One of ours went down injured causing great concern but after a minute or so saw him up and back into defensive position.
- It started raining Bulldogs’ interchanges, there seemed to be a steady tide of black shirts ebbing and flowing, their defence seemed to be everywhere, the confusion seemed to have spread everywhere and it took us a bit of time to realise they had 10 players in defense.
- What appeared to be a close match seemed to change when the Eagles started noticing weaknesses in The Bulldogs defence, the sniff of an advantage breathed new life into their legs and they took full advantage by pressing ahead and getting a couple of scores. This broke the Bulldogs back and Eagles put the game to bed.
- The final whistle was met by a few breathless “yeses!” and not a lot of energy left to do much more than the hand shakes.
- Elmbridge Eagles U18 2012 London Rugby League 9‘s winners
Well done The U18’s, The games were a joy to watch and your commitment to achieving what you did was fantastic.
Squad: Wes Heath, Finbar Murray, Tom Hart
, David Ginty
, charlie kelly
, James Morris
, Joshua Crabtree, Joe Cripps
, Olly Cripps