In a repeat of last seasons U12 NWC Cup final, 2 of the top teams from this seasons U13 premier league locked horns in the first round at St. Judes. The conditions were perfect, and the scene was set for another mouth watering tie between two teams who are normally separated by no more than a try or a kick at the final whistle.
St. Judes kicked the game off deep into the Orrell half, Aaron Waine returned the kick to be met with a thunderous shoulder charge after a solid chase. Good yards were made by the Orrell side, sharing the work in the first set of 6 and ending up close to the opposition try line where the ball was turned over.
St. Judes had it all to do to with their first possession, and made it to half way before a chip over was neatly collected by Jordan Gibbons and Orrell were back on the front foot, unfortunately this time ending the set with a knock-on close to St. Judes line. From the scrum, a set move allowed St. Judes to get their pacy centre moving down the left and it looked like he was all clear, but a lightning chase from Callum Baines
finished off with a copy book tackle ended with the attacker in touch. Unfortunately for Orrell, the lack of a neutral touch judge meant the St. Judes set continued ?
Both teams exchanged some good rugby, and again Orrell worked themselves close to St. Judes line, a clever chip from Callum Wood on the last forcing a repeat set.
Once St. Judes regained possession they ran with a sense of purpose, and some fancy footwork from a play the ball, coupled with some lazy defending allowed their acting half to make a break which ended in the first score. The conversion was kicked to make the score 6-0.
Further good exchanges followed, and a typically fierce break from John Hutchings
got Orrell well into the St. Judes half, but in a well outnumbered tackle the lost ball was judged to be a knock on. After being penalised for holding down, Orrell now had some real defending to do, but they stuck in there and held up the would be St. Judes scorer over the line.
A quick break from Jacob Maguire on the left got Orrell back up field, and after the play had been across the field and back again, the grubber on the last was just too long for the chasing Orrell flyer.
From the drop out, a heavy St. Judes tackle forced a knock on, and after some hard yards forward, St. Judes were in again way out to their left. The try being well converted for a score of 12-0 on the stroke of half time.
The second half started with another thumping tackle, this time from Oliver Partington
into the returning St. Judes forward. Following a set for each side, a lovely 1 on 1 steal by Jordan Gibbons gave Orrell the possession and territory they wanted. After a quick shift play left, and a neat play the ball, James Worthington went over the whitewash for Orrell. Marcus Grimshaw comfortably adding the extras, 12-6, game on.
It was still quite edgy, with both sides feeling the pressure. But another fantastic break through the St. Judes defence from Jacob Maguire ably supported by James Worthington took the classy centre to within 10 yards of the try line, only to be stopped by a superb tackle which unfortunately resulted in an ankle injury for James who then had to leave the field.
Orrell really fancy their chances now, moving the ball to the right and gaining a penalty for a high shot on the way. This move finished agonisingly close to the line after a knock on under pressure.
St. Judes knew they had to step up the intensity, and did just that with a break from half way sending in the loose forward. Try converted 18-6.
The Orrell team would now have to dig deep to salvage anything from this tie, and moved the ball about with energy, but a pass too far allowed for a St. Judes interception and a clear run in for a try which was coverted, 24-6.
Such a scoreline is alien to this side, and maybe heads were starting to drop, as from the kick off some sloppy tackling allowed a single runner to slice through the defence for St. Judes fifth try which was also coverted for a score of 30-6.
Orrell restarted with a short kick off, but St. Judes gathered it well. This time the Orrell defence was much better and kept the opposition in their own half. With ball in hand, Orrell never gave up and moved play left and right looking for the opening, but were caught in possession on the last.
Time was running out, but St. Judes took 4 hard drives down the middle and spread out to the right to go in at the corner. The conversion was missed and the ref blew the whistle to end the match at 34-6 in favour of the home side.
Written by Mark Waine