Spoils shared in a titanic final
Fitting finale to a season which was always building to this fantastic collision.
From the very start of the season both teams knew that eventually they would meet and the winner would have every chance of lifting the Lancashire Cup, the highest accolade for any club junior team. Like heavyweight boxers seeking to build their reputation they circled each other all winter, waiting and preparing for the inevitable contest to come.
Waterloo as ever sought the toughest of opposition throughout the season with stern tests againt Yorkshire and Cheshire teams and a trip to Laon, France to play a select team from the best players from the north of the country. No invitation or opportunity to travel or be tested has ever been turned down and this has clearly helped in developing the teamwork, rugby knowledge, mental toughness and most of all friendship along the way.
Together with the fact that the vast majority of the Waterloo team had been together for many years with only one addition over the last two years and the experience of the previous five Lancashire Cup finals (with only one defeat at U11) behind them may have made them favourites in the eyes of the casual observer but those in the know were well aware of how Sefton had developed over the last three years, particularly the way they had blended their powerful forwards with some of the best Rugby League back line talent from across the north-west.
So fate had thrown the teams together and either coach would have taken the offer of only conceding three points, confident in the mesmeric talent on offer and ability to create tries in an instant. However it wasn't to be and defences worked valiantly, tackle after tackle repelled each team and to go back to the boxing analogy no punishing blows could be landed.
Waterloo were only breached twice during the game, two half missed tackles in the last 10 mins seeing Sefton surge from the half way line to the 22 metre line. However on both occasions the players flooded back, didn’t honeypot, filled the holes and won the subsequent rucks with Mutch and Almond putting bodies on the line to defend both the ball and their team mates. An unbelievable tussle which ended with only a penalty apiece.
The referee observed that the match was outstanding, played at a great pace with committed defence and a real knowledge of the game and others observed that with the opposition sides stuffed with school mates, friends, District, County and Sale Academy players all well known to each other it was great to see a huge amount of respect shown on the pitch by both teams.
A mention for some games which prepared Waterloo for this fixture. An early season away trip to Heaton Moor provided a wake up call. The previously defeated finalists pressurised Waterloo into conceding 16 penalties to 3 and won the match. A lesson learned, a tough result to take and a determination made there and then to push on. Many thanks to Heaton Moor for that experience, it drove the Loo boys on. Warrington as usual provided a massive test which Waterloo came through by the narrowest of margins and they should rightly celebrate a brilliant junior record and have always matched Waterloo step for step. The games against Yorkshire opposition taught the boys that they could stand firm in the face of adversity and concentrate on the rugby...mental toughness on display.
The coaching team have asked that it is noted that they are massively proud to be involved with a group of young men who stood tall for ten years, took the blows, bounced back stronger, bigger and more determined every time giving every ounce of effort on the field and couldn’t have trained or played harder than they have this season.
As a parent I would like to reciprocate the compliments towards the coaches, their absolute dedication, concern for the boys personal development as well as rugby and mature approach to their role is massively respected. Thanks so much for everything over the years of junior rugby.
Well done to all involved from both teams and many thanks to the Lancashire Junior Committee and Aldwinians for hosting the final.