Another festival, another slow start for Sheffield, losing their first two pool games. They conceded three tries to both Goole and Selby, but Ben pulled one back in the first game, picking up from a ruck and running half the length of the pitch to score.
The lads just seemed to lack any spark, until Dave took them over to the other pitch where 10 of them made up the backbone of the Barbarians team. Facing our old rivals Doncaster, the Barbarians, including some Rotherham and Selby players, put in a spirited performance.
Back in their own pool, the now feisty Sheffield team showed that they can be a force to be reckoned with, beating Otley 15-5.
The Otley coaches had watched us play against Selby, and wouldn't have been impressed. But Peckett soon put them straight, scoring with his usual dive for the line from a few metres out. Ben got the second, gathering the ball from a ruck set by JJ and galloping under the posts. And Sam V scored the third after Charlie jackled, made some ground and rather than trying to force his way through he passed out to Sam who went over to score. Otley pulled one back from a short lineout despite Bruce tackling the charging prop head on and and getting under him.
Sheffield were due to play the Barbarians in the play-off for the plate final, but no-one mustered a team to play us so we got a bye into the final, where we beat Hull Ionians 10-0. It was a very close game, both teams threatening the line more than the scoreline suggests.
Sam V and Ben got the tries in the plate final. Sam scoring direct from the kick off, catching the ball then dodging tackles as he sprinted down the right wing to score. Ben scored the final try, again breaking from a ruck. Both sides came close to crossing the line a few more times but mishandled or were held up.
When they had woken up the lads put in some fine performances. Sam H made some powerful, tackle-breaking runs. Curtis and JJ linked together well on the counter attack from the high ball, making many metres. Bruce made good ground with ball in hand, and tackled well. Sam V was as committed as ever to tackling, despite hard, dusty pitch. Kyle, Dom, Peckett, Callum and Jack did well against some bigger front rows. Adam tackled well and provided some real power in the second row, and Reece returned to match fitness - you could tell he'd missed playing! - and Dec made his debut in the pack.
Charlie and Chris coped with some fast and persistent break-aways, and Alfie and Tops did some powerful running.
Sam V was man of the match and Callum won the breakdown aggression award.
When it gelled, Sheffield turned in a fine team performance. As Dave said: "I asked them why they had won the plate. They answered that they really wanted to win, and so put the effort in. I agreed and congratulated them on turning their game from one of little ambition and urgency to one that wins a trophy. As we often say, most of rugby is attitude."
Goole 15 v 5 Sheffield (Ben)
Selby 15 v 0 Sheffield
Otley 5 v 15 Sheffield (Peckett, Ben, Sam V)
Hull Ionians 0 v 10 Sheffield (Sam V, Ben).
Joe JJ Jones