Widnes Under 11's welcomed both Leigh and Southport to Prescot Road for the second set of round robin matches in the Lancashire cup on Sunday.
The morning did not get off to a good start for the Wids with four of the sixteen man squad not being able to play due to illness or injury. This meant that the home team were going to have to play both cup ties without the benefit of any substitutes or replacements.
Leigh and Southport contested the first match which was a highly competitive and enjoyable game for the neutral supporters to watch, with both teams fielding big packs and employing excellent rucking and mauling to good effect. Leigh eventually overcome their opponents with a 28-0 win, three of the tries coming in the last ten minutes.
The Wids were up against Leigh in the second game, and the coaching staff impressed upon the team the importance of meeting Leigh's bigger pack with determined tackling. Connagh Grace won the toss for Widnes and elected to kick off.
The game was off. Sam Freeman put a great kick into the Leigh back field and Widnes instantly pounced on some indecision in the Leigh team which enabled the forwards to set up a great field position just five metres out from the Leigh line . Jonathon Riley saw a gap from the base of the ruck and went over to score to give the Wids a five point lead (converted to seven by Freeman) in the first minute.
Leigh then took the game to the home team but their bigger forwards were met by determined defense and never looked likely to break the Widnes try line. The same could not be said for the Wids as the forwards were providing the backs with excellent possesion and the lively and well organised home team kept the Leigh defenders chasing after them. Jamie Patent scored the second Wids try with an excellently worked move, his determination to get through three tackles ensuring he touched down safely. Another conversion by Freeman made it fourteen nil at half time. Widnes started the second half with the same attacking frame of mind as they did the first and this enabled Freeman to score the first of his two tries in this game with another fine attacking move from the backs. Evan Bullen and Callum O’Conner, who were both playing out of their usual postions, set up the fourth try with some brilliant defensive work (both put in huge tackles on the advancing Leigh team) which set up the forwards to again get the ball out to Patent, he then passed to Freeman who went over to score in the corner. This was typical of the fantastic contribution from both O'Conner and Bullen all day.
After another succesful conversion the game finished with a twenty eight to nil win for the home team.
Widnes then took on Southport and proceeded to carry on playing in the same manner as they did against Leigh with superb forward work complimented by the backs who were determined to spread the ball wide and make the bigger Southport team work hard for possesion. Wids scored two very quick tries through Big John Brett and Freeman and within the first five minutes were fourteen nil up. With what was surely a bit of tiredness after the game against Leigh, Widnes then took their foot of the gas untill half time and let Southport play their tighter forward based game, but the home team stood firm and didnt let the visitors break through for a score.
The half time interval allowed the home team to regroup and after a talk from Captain Grace and Pack leader Josh Boughey the Wids re-energised team took up their usual game of good rucking and mauling, which enabled the backs to again run well against a now tiring Southport team. Adam Maddison was a constant thorn to the opposition and hooker George “the artful dodger” McGarvey regularly emerged from the mauls and rucks with the ball.
Freeman picked up two more tries either side of another one for Jamie Patent, who had one of his best ever games for Widnes. This was balanced on the other wing by Mathew Tyrrell who weighed in with his usual strong and reliable contribution. The game ended with the home team winning thirty five nil. Captain Grace led his team from the front, but every team member deserves mentioning as they all put in excellent performances throughout the two games.
The coaches and watching parents were ecstatic with the overall performance of the team, scoring nine converted tries and conceding none in the two games played, but it was the way the team organised itself into the correct playing positions which kept releasing the backs and forwards to attack strongly after the breakdown that pleased the coaches most. We would also like to thank Southport and Leigh for contributing to a very enjoyable morning of Rugby.
Report by Paul Whitehouse