The Centurion Cup returns to Yorkshire for only the second time in its 51 year history as Sheffield Steelers under 14s defeat Cheadle Hulme in a tense contest at the Northern Flags Finals at Rochdale on Saturday.
Since February Steelers have beaten Oldham, Cheadle and Rochdale to reach the final of the tournament which involves all the top teams in the North of England and is regarded as the biggest of its kind in the United Kingdom.
From the Face-Off Steelers were first to mount an attack , but after failing to break the Cheadle Hulme defence, possession was lost and the ball was carried back to the Sheffield half. Sheffield regained the ball but again failed to capitalise and Cheadle Hulme scored the first goal on their second attack. Sheffield were soon two goals behind when the Hulmeian attackers shot another goal through a gap in the Sheffield defence and the Steelers’ supporters might have thought that their long run of victories was over in the first quarter of the final. However Elliot Ogle only had one thing on his mind when he received the ball from a Dan Aspin pass – and that was putting it in the back of the net to get the crowd cheering again.
Q1, CH 2 - SS 1
Steelers battled to gain control of the match with Aspin winning the ball in the Sheffield half and delivering a defence splitting pass to Co-Captain Tom Dale who fired off a lightning shot to beat the Cheadle Hulme Goalie and bring the score level. Sheffield gained momentum when Dale supplied a neat assist of his own to his fellow attacker Harry Eyre, giving Steelers the lead with a rocket shot fired from his trusty stick. Opposition supporters were elated as Cheadle Hulme manufactured a successful attack on the Sheffield goal to bring the scores level once more before the half time interval.
Play became intense as the second half commenced, with both teams battling to gain advantage. The Sheffield defence had let the occasion get to them as over-zealous stick use was flagged too often and Steelers long poles found themselves being benched on penalties. On his return to the field Shea Brennan made a vital interception and launched the Sheffield side into attack. Steelers’ front men commanded possession and eventually Jamie Chambers fought a way past four defenders to score a brilliant and most welcome individual goal. As Cheadle Hulme increased their effort to stay in the game Sheffield battled mercilessly as players Luke Green and Matt Howorth combined to break down the Cheadle Hulme attacks.
Both sides played with increased intensity as the final quarter commenced, and the cursed long poles attracted yet more penalties. However, despite Robbie Hobson and Ajay Bowry being awarded two and three minute penalties respectively for their exuberance, Sheffield maintained their composure to maintain the one goal advantage. Soon Elliot Ogle found himself swamped by ecstatic team mates after he had forced one of his trade mark goals in past the Cheadle Hulme goalie to extend the lead to by two. As Steelers endeavoured to reach victory with five minutes left Shea Brennan commanded the field and each of his challenges was met with a jubilant cheer from the excited Sheffield supporters, eventually cheering the final whistle as Sheffield became the Centurion Cup Champions.
Man of the Match, Shea Brennan