For the second year, Medway Park was the stage for the Lionstrust London Rugby League Challenge Cup Finals on Saturday. The sun shone, the pitch in great condition for open fast football and that’s what we got.
The day opened with the Under 16 Finals and a re-match of the 2013 Grand Final when Croydon Hurricanes took on Medway Dragons. After a period of time finding their feet, both of the well-matched teams settled in to the contest. Momentum swung side to side until eventually the Hurricanes avenged the defeat last year with a hard fought 26-20 victory over the Dragons .
Next up was the Under 13 Final which pitted Elmbridge Eagles against Croydon Hurricanes. The polished skills of the Elmbridge team against the power and pace of the Hurricanes proved to be great ingredients for an exciting contest which could have gone either way right up to the last couple of minutes. Goal kicking proved crucial as Elmbridge recorded a 30-18 win.
The boom came with the Under 19 Final when London Skolars took on South London Storm, a repeat of the 2013 Grand Final which was won by Skolars in Golden Point extra time. The re-match had all of the passion, thrills, spills and big hits of that game as both teams battled under the high sun. It appeared that Storm had got their desired reward with two fantastic long range tries to pull ahead. The Skolars, sensing on last chance, ran hard for the line. Awarded a penalty, for dragging into touch, they hit the line one more time, stretched out an arm and pinched the game, 32-30, with the very last play.
The Under 12 final saw Medway Dragons take on Elmbridge Eagles. The Eagles opened up a three try advantage and had caught The Dragons asleep. Back came the youngsters from Kent who established a firm grip on the game and played some great football to claw their way back in and then overtake the Eagles. The Surrey boys pulled a try back at the end but it was too late, The Dragons prevailed 34-22.
Saving the best till last can rarely be planned, but it worked on this day. The Under 14 Final was a classic which had all the right things in the mix as Elmbridge Eagles took on Staines Titans. The Titans made the best start and dominated the first half. The Eagles struck back and took the lead mid-way through the second period to lead 24-22. Staines rallied and scored two converted tries to put themselves firmly in the driving seat. Back came the Eagles, ensuring a desperate last few minutes. Staines had clung on but, incredibly, on the last play of the game, the Eagles broke down the right to score a winner at the death. 38-34 to the Eagles.
Martin Coyd, London RL Youth, Junior & Primary RL Chair said ‘This was a great day for Rugby League in London. All the contests were very even could have gone either way. It was incredible that both the 14s and 19s games were won on the very last play of the game. The day had everything -a great environment, great spirit, fantastic skill levels, passion and a real sense of belonging to the London Rugby League family’
‘I would like to recognise the outstanding performance of all the Match Officials who were excellent and managed the games very well, ensuring great flow and continuity. The Match Officials team is as vital and precious as all the other teams we have in the competition and it is great to see them doing so well’
‘Today also saw a Primary Rugby League Festival at Southend and we are in great shape going in to the last two months of the regular season. All clubs are set up and ready for a strong push into the Play Offs in July.