U12’s Lancashire Vase Winners!
Sefton win the Lancashire "C" (Vase) final through character, commitment and teamwork!
Today we attended the top tier Lancashire Festival after qualifying from our group. The festival was fantastically hosted by Bolton RUFC, and on a glorious day and against the best sides in the county we knew it we were in for a great day. We had a strong squad despite some forwards missing and fly half Dan out with a broken collarbone!
Forwards-Ellis, Joel H, Charlie, Ali, Kostas, Jay K, Ariss, Anthony, Alex
Backs-Tom W, Sam, Tom K, Mikey, Jay P, Ruban, Callum, Kealan, Joel Mc
We opened the tournament against Trafford MV, a team we are quite familiar at these tournaments and I have great respect for, a really good and well coached team. It was a tough, fair first half. Trafford poured forward but good defence by Sam, Ellis, Ali and Kostas kept them out. However after a sustained spell of pressure they did eventually go over for the try. We attacked with purpose through Callum, Tom K, Jay and Ellis but Trafford remained resolute in defence. A big improvement today was in our rucking, with two forwards always looking to seal the ball quickly and Tom W getting it out to the backs. Ruban and Alex both had good good moments before Trafford marched up the pitch following a turnover and their brilliant captain Luke split our defence with a dummy to put them 2-0 up. This is where our true character kicked in. Sam, Charlie, Tom K, Mikey and Jay P all did well to advance up the pitch which resulted in a try for Kostas. Great work by all of our forwards then drove Trafford back, even more great work by the forwards won us a scrum in the opposition 22, and Mikey ended up crashing over to equalise. Tom W, Ali, Joel H and Alex all defended well against a Trafford side playing really good and varied rugby, then great hands by Tom W, Mikey and Tom K worked the ball left to Sam, who stepped his man then raced away, a great support line by Jay P attracted the opposition winger, and a lovely step by Sam saw him beat the fullback and score. Trafford never gave up and came back hard, forcing good tackles by Joel H, Kealan, Joel Mc, Ariss and Kostas. Sam bundled their winger into touch and from the pass kicked clear, the ball bounced wickedly and Callum got on the end of it to beat the fullback and score, sealing a really good competitive game at 4-2 to Sefton, MOTM Sam, great running, passing, tackling and kicking.
Next up were Littleborough, who we drew with last week. We knew they were a physical side and hit some good angles on the edges. Initially we defended well as Ali, Tom K and Ellis got stuck in. Jay K put in some huge hits and Joel H was solid in defence. Eventually one of their big men broke some very passive tackles and went over for an opening try. We heaped the pressure on as Mikey, Ellis, Anthony and Joel H all took some big drives, and we dominated the territory thanks to smart play by Tom W and Sam at 9 and 10. Littleborough were just slightly more aggressive than us at the ruck and turned us over on their line. Great hits by Ruban, Alex, Kostas, Ariss, and a cruncher of a tackle by Charlie and Ellis together on their big prop kept them pinned in their 22 until the half time whistle sounded. It was more of the same in the second half with Sefton dominated territory and possession but struggling to cope with Littleborough’s aggressive and powerful running. Kealan, Joel H, Anthony and Charlie all had some good moments and Sam was narrowly denied a try by the touchline. Tom K and Callum were good in attack in defence, Jay K’s tackling was ferocious, and Jay P and Ruban remained solid out wide. Kostas was brilliant at the ruck, and Charlie and Anthony both put in good shifts. Great tackling by Kostas, Mikey, Jay K and Tom W kept them pinned in but eventually more missed tackles allowed them in to finish the game at 2-0. Good effort against a good team, but a very winnable game was lost. MOTM Kostas, was all over the pitch tackling and rucking.
Next up were Sedgley Park, to decide whether we went in to the plate semi final or the vase semi final. Park are up there with the best in the county (they finished second in the cup competition today) and showed exactly why today with some big yet skilful forwards and some inside backs who could pick out some wonderful long passes. We simply started too slow and allowed Park to play all the rugby, with the defence also faltering at time, although for Sedgley’s four tries, all were mostly down to their superb ball handling skills and organisation. Callum pulled a try back at the end when he got the end of a brilliant kick by Sam, but 4-1 was a fair score in the end. MOTM Jay P, defended his wing admirably all game and looked to come inside and get his hands on the ball.
So onto the vase semi final against Bolton. We started by far the better side against a big and aggressive team, using our pace out wide to good effect. Sam, Tom K and Mikey all looked to link up with their team mates, Kealan was working hard and Jay P, moved to 9 with Tom W injured, was having a great game. Mikey, Ellis, Joel H, Ruban and Jay K all did well against their big runners and eventually Callum came away with the ball and skinned four defenders, running half the pitch to open the scoring. Bolton soon used their power equalise despite good effort from Anthony, Joel H, and Ariss. Alex’s ball carrying was good yet again and Kostas was dynamic and aggressive. Great play by Ali won us turnover ball, then brilliant play by Sam and Mikey released Tom K to skin his marker and score in the corner. Joel Mc, Jay P and Ariss worked hard, Charlie was having a great game and Jay K’s rucking was brilliant. A lovely bit of link play between Kealan and Tom K looked destined to result in a try but a last ditch tackle kept us out. Charlie, Joel H, Anthony and Ali all got through some good work to win us the ball back, then good passes by Joel Mc, Jay P and Sam saw Kostas go over for a try. We should have scored about another 2 or 3 from here as we spurned a number of opportunities, Bolton to their credit remained competitive throughout, defending strongly and even pulled back another try. 3-2 to Sefton it finished, probably not a fair reflection on the game as we dominated but Bolton put in a good shift so well done to them, they went on to win the “D” (bowl) final against Liverpool Collegiate. MOTM Tom K, great running and passing.
And so we had qualified for the Lancashire “C” (Vase) final against Rochdale. Last time we played Rochdale, they gave us a pasting at our place. We emphasised to the lads that this was ultimate test of character, how would they react to being up against such a strong side in such a big game?? The answer; fantastically. Rochdale made an early break but Sam, Tom K and Callum swarmed their winger and forced a knock on. Sam’s kicking was wonderful, forcing a number of knock ons, and the forwards were brilliant against a strong Rochdale pack. Big runs by Mikey, Ellis, Jay K and Ariss advanced us up the pitch, and smart play by Tom K, Sam, Tom W and Ali nearly saw Ruban in for a try. Rochdale attacked well with some great passing and direct running, they had a good spell of possession but great work by Ali, Kostas and Charlie turned them over. Sam kicked clear but a high tackle saw Rochdale awarded a penalty. They gave it straight to a lad who most U15’s would look at and tremble, and his strength and aggression took him well over half the pitch to score the opener. We kept our chins up, with Tom W, Sam, Kostas and Jay K all doing well. Callum was a threat in attack and solid in defence, Kealan, Alex and Anthony put in good shifts, and Jay K and Ariss were both brilliant. Good ball carrying by Mikey and Joel H saw us maintain a good position, then lovely passing by Tom, Ali and Sam released Tom K to scorch down the wing and score the equaliser. Rochdale’s ball handling and decision making were fantastic, they’re clearly a well coached group of lads, the game was extremely even but Ali and Kostas took it by the scruff of the neck and drove their player back into his own 22, they great rucking by Ariss, Jay K and Anthony won us the ball back. Kealan, Joel Mc and Sam all attacked dangerously, then Tom W threw a gorgeous cut out pass to Ali out wide who stepped his man then offloaded to Ruban who pushed on, earning valuable meters before being brought down, but unfortunately the next phase we went into touch right on their line. They gave it to the big man to gain them meters again, and that he did, but not nearly as successfully as last time as Anthony, Ariss, Jay K and Sam bravely dragged him down. Alex, Mikey and Joel H continued to carry the ball hard, Ariss ran really aggressively, Charlie played some good rugby, Jay P was energetic, Ruban was unbeatable and Tom W was brilliant. Everyone was leaving everything out there on the pitch. Sam performed like an absolute super star, the smartest and also the most aggressive player on the pitch in this game, his talent really shining through. Tom K and Jay K were also magnificent as well. Rochdale were awarded a penalty and their 10 tapped quick and went into a gap, racing away 1 on 1 with Callum at fullback. This was the moment that would decide the game. And Callum got him! A brilliant low hit by Cal flattened him, then superb rucking by Jay K, Ellis and Mikey won us a penalty. Sam kicked it into touch to finish the game, it was 1-1, but with tournament rules stating the team who scored the last try is deemed the winner, we took the win and the title of Lancashire U12’s Vase winners! MOTM Jay K, brilliant tackling, running and rucking. Great game Rochdale!
So in our first year of county competition, we win the Vase final. This was an outstanding effort by the lads, working hard, playing as a team, showing great character and working for each other. There is not one single lad who represented us today who let us down in the slightest. You should all be going home with smiles on your faces feeling proud of yourselves. It’s been a long hard season, difficult at times, especially over the last few months, but to finish it like this is simply fantastic. Well done everyone. Me and Ste are extremely proud of you all!