Let’s face it, the winter has not been kind to the Under 10’s. Since their peak against Manchester on 30th October last year (the day the clock’s went back and Coach Riddlestone declared it “the best display of rugby by a mini team in 20 years!” - remember?) the U10’s have had little to cheer about. Temperatures dropped and so did the results. Despite some flashes of brilliance it was all fairly grim. Defeats outweighed the victories and heads began to drop. But as soon as the temperature starts to rise, the snowdrops appear and the bulbs spring to life then, to misquote the great Alfred, Lord Tennyson “in the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of victory on the rugby field”. And so it came to pass that the Under 10’s went head to head with the might of Winnington Park U11’s last Sunday - and won. Not by luck or by mistake but by remembering how to do the basics right and playing with spirit, guts and determination. And it put a smile back on their cherubic faces, a spring in their step and a song in their hearts. And set them up nicely for a road trip to Sandbach to do battle with the home team and Shrewsbury.
WPRFC “Whites” 5 – 0 Sandbach “B”
Champagne rugby from the start! Recycling smoothly and passing beautifully allows the ball out to Owain on the wing who makes mincemeat of the opposition to open the scoring. Solid defence keeps Sandbach at bay until a loose pass allows Alex to gain possession and run the whole length to score. A quick turnover, slick passing and full back James comes in on the crash ball to score the third. Meanwhile Scott is playing like a man possessed, tackling, driving and rucking like a natural and obviously loving it. The half finishes with Jack scampering down the wing before being tackled, setting the ball up beautifully for Stephen and Ollie to ruck over allowing scrum-half Alex to feed Toby who exploits the gap and offloads to Cameron to score. Sandbach come out fighting for the second half and pressurise WP from the start but solid defence and robust tackling holds them up – indeed the “Whites” tackling throughout was magnificent as they achieved a 95% success rate in the first half and improved to 96% in the second. Only one further score for the “Whites” as Alex again finds the gap and sprints over for his second. Sandbach fail to score and WP close out an excellent win.
WPRFC “Whites” 4 – 3 Shrewsbury
A different type of game provided by a more combative and physical Shrewsbury side which required fearless and determined resolve in both attack and defence. The scrum of Ollie, Scott and Stephen continued to provide a really solid base and refused to be pushed around. Owain and Jack patrolled the wings while full-back James ripped the jugular out of any attack (one notable tackle on the opposition wing launched him into orbit). Toby and Cameron continued a really good working relationship between fly-half and centre while Alex was able to snipe at leisure, securing two tries in the process. A rare missed tackle allowed Shrewsbury only a single try in the first half. The second half continued in much the same vein, albeit arguably more physical. Scott goes on the charge and good rucking allows Alex to dart over twice more while Shrewsbury drive over to score and rare missed tackles allow them a second. WP continue to contain the Shrewsbury attack which proves a bit much for one chap who boils over in frustration but fortunately it’s all bark and no bite.
“Whites”: Scott, Ollie, Stephen, Alex, Toby, Jack, Cameron, Owain, James
WPRFC “Blues” 1 – 7 Sandbach “A”
Sandbach adopt an ‘A & B Team’ policy while WP stick to Coach Riddlestone’s mix-it-up approach. Sandbach keep WP’s defence pinned back close to their try line and apply the pressure ruthlessly. Harry breaks out to provide some respite but Sandbach snuff out the danger and normal service is resumed as the home team lay siege to the WP try line. As half time is called Sandbach have run in two tries as WP’s resolute defence refuses to be swept away. The second half continues in similar fashion as Sandbach lay siege to the WP try line. The defence can’t hold out forever and ultimately is breached on five occasions although Callum lightens the mood with a fine individual try.
WPRFC “Blues” 6 – 1 Sandbach “B”
What this match does demonstrate is the difference between the two Sandbach teams as, having been given a tough workout in the first game, the Blues ride roughshod over the home team’s second string. Callum (2) and Louis(1) cross the line after good rucking and passing while in defence the tackles are strong and unforgiving. Joe at scrum-half is making his opposite number’s life distinctly unpleasant while full-back Tim is displaying a ruthlessness of which an assassin would be proud. The second half is rather disjointed and a lot of unforced errors creep into both teams’ play. This doesn’t stop WP scoring a further three tries as Elliott opens his account, Louis bags his second and Callum secures his hat-trick. Sandbach cross for a lone try after a missed tackle.
“Blues”: Elliott, Sam W, Sam T, Joe, Dan, Callum, Louis, Harry, Tim
WPRFC “Blues” 2 – 2 Shrewsbury
As fatigue takes its toll, the “Blues” import a few players from the “Whites” to bolster their numbers – namely Alex, Scott, Toby and James. Shrewsbury continue their ‘no nonsense’ attitude and provide a stern test. Tries from Alex and Callum are matched by two from Shrewsbury as their pack drives over for the first and a missed tackle allows their speedster wing in as the half-time whistle is blown. The second half is scoreless as both teams show real dedication to defence, tackling hard and giving no quarter. Scott and Elliott clash heads; Toby shows that he’s got hooker ability; Callum steps up his tackling to nail everyone; Dan becomes obsessed with making sure his opposite number can’t go anywhere. Attritional stuff and a draw is a fair result.
A welcome return for the medals too. A big “well done” to the following: -
Whites: Most Improved Player – Scott Watson
Best Defender – James Reid
Blues: Most Improved Player – Harry Jacks
Best Defender – Dan Davenport