U13s Yorkshire Cup
What a day to remember!
On Sunday 15 April the season reached its climax – Yorkshire Cup day at Sandal. The only time over the season the girls play to actually win.
With 10 teams in attendance the draw would be crucial. Once all the letters were drawn The Harriers were in pool two with Old Brods, Old Crocs, Pontefract and of course Castleford!
First up Pontefract. A team we played just the week before and only just won over three games. You never know how well teams may change over a week so we told the girls to play as they knew how: defend the line; tackle hard, ship the ball to the runners and gaps would open up. Sure enough it worked and within a few minutes the Harriers were one score up.
The girls stuck to their game plan and over the 12 minute game managed to score another two tries – final score 3-0.
It was a very good performance before the crunch game of the pool – Castleford.
A drink and a snack and the Harriers were soon facing up to their old adversaries – they had played Cas a lot over the season, they had won some, they had lost some. The coaches wanted a performance the Harriers would remember.
The girls were up for it. They started as they ended the first game. They perfected a rush defence which give the tall Cas runners no space to run into. They continued to close them down and Cas kept making the errors. However, Cas were also a tough nut to crack and were defending with vigour forcing the Harriers into mistakes.
The players kept their heads and after 8 minutes we secured the ball, a few passes and another ruck where they secured the ball which was quickly moved along the line to be gathered and a try scored. It was all that was needed.
With so little time left the Harriers kept Cas in their own half and as soon as the ref called last play the ball found its way to the WPL scrum half who dutifully kicked the ball into touch.
Played 2 won 2.
Next up would be Old Crocs, a team the Harriers had played just once over the season. With tired legs and a few knocks picked up, the team was changed to allow other players to get some game time and others to rest.
Crocs however were a spirited bunch and capitalised on the Harriers previous encounter with Cas. The Harriers were looking jaded and the defence was weaker. Crocs shipped the ball out to the wing, through two tackles to score after 3 minutes. This was repeated a minute later – same move, same player. With half the game gone changes were needed. Fresh legs were introduced, the ship steadied and the first try was quickly scored. 2 – 1 with 4 minutes to play.
From the kick the Harriers gathered the ball and began to put phases together. Crocs defence wasn’t alive and WPL made progress down the pitch. Some excellent rucking saw the ball recycled out wide and back again before a looping run by the Harriers right wing left her with no one in front and she scored with seconds to spare. Final score 2-2.
Played 3 won 2 drew 1
The final pool game saw the Harriers play Old Brods. A team we haven’t played since before Christmas. Old Brods had also beaten Old Crocs so were no slouches. Knowing the Harriers had to win really bolstered the attack and defence and it was very much a repeat of the Pontefract game. Excellent defence, turnover ball secured, ball shipped and the tries came. After 12 minutes the Harriers had won 3-0
Played 4, won 3 drawn 1
The Harriers had reached the final with an impressive series of games. It was all to play for in the final against Sandal who were at home and had won all their pool games. Their fans and coaches were excited and expected another win.
The Harriers had been patched up, had calmed their nerves and were ready for the biggest game of the season. The coaching advice was simple – do as you have done so far. Defend tight, tackle hard and don’t give them space.
The Harriers kicked off and were into the Sandal half and it was where they stayed for the next 9 minutes of the game. Sandal just couldn’t break through with their attacking girls. At every attempt they could get no further than a couple of metres before being tackled and either losing the ball or being counter rucked.
In desperation their main attack runner tried to kick the ball from hand, she missed and a Harrier player gathered the ball for more attacking runs.
At 0-0 with 4 minutes to play Sandal did manage to get the ball to their winger who looked to be through, but 10m from the WPL line she was caught and bundled into touch.
From the free pass the Harriers played excellent rugby to get into the Sandal half again. The ball went left and right before coming back to the left touchline. The Harriers left wing was away, but was stopped just short.
From the free pass the Sandal player was tackled and lost the ball from the ruck. A counter ruck saw the Harriers scrum half get hands on the ball, shoot a pass out wide which was gathered and another pass found a player who cut back in to score.
At 1 - 0 and a minute to play the Harriers kicked off, Sandal gathered, but the Harriers weren’t for letting them through. Another hard tackle saw the Sandal player stopped in her tracks. She wasn’t for getting up and the ref blew the whistle for the end of the game. Due to the injury the Harriers were in a huddle unaware the game had ended. On the news they briefly celebrated, but quickly maintained composure to cheer and congratulate Sandal before they went to the main stand which was full of family and friends.
The Sycamore song was sung at full volume and the girls enjoyed their first taste of success.
Tries for 10
Tries against 2
With such awesome performances over an hour of hard rugby no single player could be picked out – it was a genuine squad effort. However the following players deserve a special mention for their noticeable contributions:
Gemma – for rucking and counter rucking at every opportunity
Kylie – for some hard tackles which put the opposition off their stride
Bronwyn - for her excellent runs and captaincy in some of the group games
Libby B – for great back running lines
Eva- Mae - for a couple of crucial tries when it mattered
Anna - for battling through her dead leg injury
Niamh - for being so up for it in one of her first ever games and showing great skills during the final
Naomi - for captaining the team in the group games and final
Olivia and Rhiannon for being there and playing your part
Evie G – for turning up while injured to support your team mates