Launceston produces seasons best to run Newquay close
Sam Sharman and Finn Hilsdon show real grit in dynamic team performance
A big day at Polson Bridge on Sunday, Launceston's u14s hosted Newquay Hornets and Old Beccehamians, a touring side from the Surrey/Kent border.
Newquay are generally regarded as the best u14 side in the county and Old Beccs came to Cornwall with only one loss showing on their record this season, in a very competitive south eastern league.
So, with the sun beating down (honest) on the riverside pitch, Launceston kicked off against Newquay, for the first 15 minute half, in the past, Lanson have been guilty of showing quality opposition a bit too much respect, allowing opponents to get on top early, not today, the boys took it to Newquay, not letting them settle, the first 6 minutes were really cagey, with both defences looking solid.
It took 10 minutes for the classy Newquay centre's tactical kicking to start to tell, the All Blacks were pushing hard with Jack Goodman and Finn Hilsdon in particular making dents with their carries, but Newquay were comfortable enough in their defence to allow Launceston on to them and then struck on the counter, the resulting kick chase saw their pacy winger open the scoring, just before the first half ended, 0 - 5.
And so the second half kicked off and whilst the first 15 had ended with Newquay on top, Launceston came out firing in the second, the handling was good and it paid off, Newquay's speed at the breakdown had been key up to this point, big mobile forwards flooding the contact area. Launceston switched onto this and began counter rucking with precision, the phases built with Alex Maciver-Redwood, Finn Hilsdon and Ben Webb going hard, Freddie Ward made some great ground, went close, he was finally stopped a few metres out and the quick thinking Billy Martin picked up and went airborne over the line, between the posts, for a well deserved Lanson score, which Tom Lowe converted. 7-5
Newquay responded by attacking the wide left channel hard, until Sam Sharman came off the defensive line like a racing snake, from inside his own 22, intercepted the pass, juggled for a split second, regathered, "Sharmanated" the first 2 tacklers and took off on a 60 m lungbuster, the crowd were going wild and only the speed of the Hornets winger could stop him, he was hauled up 3 metres short, 2 more defenders isolated him, turned him over and cleared their lines. Fair play to the Newquay cover defence, not many would have got back to stop Sam, who is in outstanding form at the moment.
Newquay's turn, this time they kept it with the forwards and set up a forceful rolling maul, which went over the line, centrally making the conversion easier and the fly-half nailed it. 7-12.
The Hornets seemed to sense a slight turn in the game now and turned the screw, building phases they sent their right winger over this time for another unconverted score. Rather than breaking the all black resolve, the latest try sent the boys into overdrive and some quality handling in the tight put Ollie Tomkies clear, he saw the tiniest chink of light, busted through and went over on a wide arc, to dot down right in the corner, Tom was unlucky with the conversion and the scores were level. 12-12
Going into the last quarter and Newquay responded again, they still had enough in the tank to set a platform with their forwards, which gave the backs enough space to score the final unconverted try of this compelling match. Final score, 12-17. The stand-outs in this one were Finn Hilsdon (brilliant attacking runs, even with his £2 subs in one of his socks) and Sam Sharman, quite often linking in defence with try stopping hits and really creative lines in attack and also the defensive work from Alex Maciver-Redwood, I didn't think his tackling could get any better, but Alex took it to another level today, stopping anything in his channel and anybody else's! Great work boys, they were instrumental, but, for me, this was the best Launceston u14 team performance of the season, a brilliant game to watch.
Unfortunately, with this being a triangular contest, one team had to play back to back, this turned out to be Lanson, due to us having more subs. The breeze had dropped and it was the hottest part of the day, for the Launceston/Old Beccehamians game. Old Beccs were on fresh legs and Lanson had thrown the kitchen sink at the first encounter, so it only took Beccs 3 minutes to go over for their first score, although Launceston were out on their feet, Old Beccs are obviously a real quality outfit, with plenty of strike runners prepared to go from anywhere and they ran in 7 unanswered tries, although this wasn't really a fair reflection on the Lanson boys, who had emptied the tank.
Finally, Newquay played Old Beccs on the main pitch, again this was heavily influenced by the conditions, with Beccs having just played and Newquay rested, Newquay had studied the previous match and starved Beccs of possession really well to win the game 3 - 0, with a single penalty.
Thanks to all, a fantastic day of rugby
By Rich Stiles