Hindley's squad was boosted by the returning Tom Peters
, Joe Sumner
, Danny Carroll
and Connor Bishop for the 10:30am kick off on the Darby Lane pitch and the team came flying out of the blocks early on in the game.
Hindley played some of their most structured and effective attacking rugby of the season to open up what proved to be unassailable for the visitors.
The opening try came from Connor Aspey who left the Thatto defenders with twisted blood as his quick footwork helped him to the line. Despite the missed conversion the second try wasn't far away as Carroll marked his return with a strong-running effort that the defenders just couldn't handle. Carroll added the extra's to extend Hindley's lead.
Some awesome defence by Hindley prevented Thatto hitting back immediately while the home side were proving to be a real threat in every set they had with the ball in hand.
Shortly before the break Connor Aspey went over the whitewash for his second, and Hindley's third, with a determined run to the line. Another missed conversion meant that Thatto weren't quite out of touch when maybe, in the balance of the first half, they probably should have been.
HT Hindley 14 Thatto Heath Shields 0
Hindley made a number of changes at the start of the second half with the coach's keen to ensure that the tempo remained at least the same in the second period.
When Carroll shrugged off several Thatto players on his way to the line for his second try of the game (another brilliant effort) the joviality amongst the players wearing Black & Gold gave some cause for concern as there was still 15 minutes left to play and Thatto were not about to give up.
Hindley began to fall off tackles and make basic errors when in possession. In addition, the penalty count began to rise in favour of the visitors and all of these factors gave the Shields a way back into the game.
Repeat sets pushed Hindley further and further back towards their own line and, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, Thatto were within two points of Hindley thanks to three tries, two of which were converted.
With 2-3 minutes to play Hindley were again defending their own line with a slender 2-point lead. Memories of the slack line defence from recent weeks at Blackbrook and Crosfields were in the minds of the coach's and supporters.
Thanks to some wonderful scrambling efforts - Carroll, Connor Aspey, Tom Peters
, Connor Alder to name a few - Hindley's line wasn't to be breached again.
As Hindley regained possession an insprired play by Joe Sumner
virtually wrapped up the victory for his side. The Black & Golds were 10 metres from their own line on the third play with Thatto defending well. Sumner noticed that the opposition full back was in the defensive line and kicked down field. The ball stopped perfectly in the Thatto in-goal and their impressive number 5 picked up possession but the charge of Hindley players led by captain Reece Cassidy
made sure that he was tackled behind his own line to give Hindley the ball in a dangerous position.
A couple of straight drives set the platform for Sumner to tease the oppostion, running across the line before throwing a long ball out to Harry McRoberts
. McRoberts at first looked like he was to be foiled but he forced his way free of two would-be tacklers to score a fine try in the corner.
The Hindley players, coach's and supporters cheered as one! A fantastic end to the game for the home side. Anything other than a win for Hindley would have been unjust - their expansive rugby, their committed defence and the amount of pressure they were under for much of the game due to a penalty count heavily in favour of the visitors meant that they were well worthy of the victory.
FT Hindley 22 Thatto Heath Shields 16
Man of the Match
- Reece Cassidy
. As chosen by the Thatto coach. Gave clear direction to his team mates throughout the game and did his bit on defence with some great hits. Well played, Reece!
- Connor Aspey. A great effort again and gave everything for the cause when the team had more defending to do than they've been used to. Nice one, Connor (or should that be Pigeon?! Your Nan likes that nickname!!)
- Harry McRoberts
. Put in a couple of crunching tackles and came up with the match-clinching try in the closing stages. Well done, Harry!
As mentioned after the game, the team has come a long way so far this season. They've beaten some teams for the first ever time (Leigh Miners, Folly Lane) as well as learning some valuable lessons in defeat (Halton, Blackbrook, Crosfields).
Most importantly the lads try to play
rugby - they try to get the ball out wide to the backs having had the platform laid by the forwards. We also believe that the players must give their all in every training session and every game as there aren't any hiding places on a rugby field and the game demands that everyone contribute.
Our approach is geared towards developing their skills and giving them the best possible chance of becoming good players in a good team much further down the line.
We've thoroughly enjoyed the experiences of the season so far and we hope to have many more good memories in front of us from September onwards when the season resumes.
Thanks to everyone who plays their own part within the U10's group (player, supporter, first aider, stats man/woman, football card fella, penny jar lady, etc etc) your efforts are very much appreciated.