After Leek had pulled out of our Plate Trophy Final due on Sunday, it appeared that the Fred Rowley Colts Trophy would be the climax of the season. This would be a massive step up for our lads as they were to play under 18 and 19 year olds. Rumour had it that AOE would bring a big strong physical game - and so it proved.
On a sunny but cold evening at the Walsall ground, it was a mostly recognisable under 17’s team, with the added value of Colts players; Ethan Walker, Josh Townrow, Ben Cooper, Paul Darby, Nathan Blackwood and Ben Ward.
AOE kicked off. Immediately visible was a step-up in the quality of Rugby that we had been playing all season. It was high intensity stuff right from the start. AOE gave the early pressure, but Walsall defended gallantly against some big guys although we did start giving some penalties away. But slowly Walsall Colts grew into their game and it was Nathan Blackwood who broke the deadlock with a pick & go from the back of the scrum. Converted by Zach Edwards. Score 7-0
Then it was even stevens for a while with both defences holding strong until Nathan B again pounced on a loose ball to dive over the line right in the corner. This resulted in a difficult conversion attempt into the wind right from the wing, but Zach epitomised the growing confidence of the team by really putting everything into the kick which fell over the crossbar. Score 14-0.
AOE really came on the attack then, and after a succession of penalties, AOE finally scored a Try and converted. Score 14-7
This scoreline only spurred on our players. After some decent possession in the AOE half, Zach passed the ball to Ethan on halfway line from the back of a scum then tracked Ethan as he ran out wide, then a perfectly timed inside pass from Ethan to Zach saw Zach cross the whitewash under the posts for easiest of conversions. Score 21-7 at half-time.
After reorganising themselves, AOE came out hard in the second-half and put Walsall under sustained pressure for first 10 minutes. But after a superb tackle by Dan Carpenter on the AOE danger man (a player who received their Man of the Match award) the tide seemed to turn. A penalty kick converted by Zach put scoreboard pressure on AOE. Score 24-7
Minutes later, after a selfless performance all match Josh Townrow finally got his reward and crossed the line for a great Try.
As I ran on with the kicking tee, I could see in our player’s eyes a burning desire to see this through to a win. Rory & Ali especially looked really up for it! Conversion by Zach. Score 31-7
After that we played the field territory game, keeping AOE camped in their own half and they never seemed to threaten after that,. With a plethora of subs the game became a bit disjointed towards the end. Still, there was great relief when final whistle went.
As Man of the Match for each Team was announced, it occurred to me that every one of our lads should have had a medal today. It’s nice to see that the core of the Team who turn up week after week for training have got their just rewards (and many thanks to all parents who bring them and dedication of the Coaches).
The job is not done yet though - there’s the much anticipated semi-final next Thursday 28th April – let’s see what we can do against Stourbridge.
You may wonder why the tagline is called “Panic!", well I hear that two sets of parents, Neil & Tracy Wilding and Carole & the current Mr Aston, both have holidays arranged for the Fred Rowley Trophy Final week, therefore I predict panic should we win again next week!
p.s. As I picked up all the dirty, smelly shirts off the changing room floor, it occurred to me that I had had to pay £1 entrance fee for the privilege - still the performance merited it. See you all next week.
Nathan Blackwood – well deserved Man of the Match for Walsall
Ethan Walker – brilliant as fullback safe hands, great speed, great kicking game
Josh Townrow – very impressed with his performance, a strong, attack minded player
Ben Cooper – skilfull and enthusiastic, always ready to support
Paul Darby – high energy in his role
Tom Olivo – strong in both defence and attack in his mid-field role
Karl Pothecary – brilliant in his disruptive role
Tom Aston – led by example, great maturity under pressure
Dan Carpenter – good to have him back, grew stronger as game progressed
Ali Kennedy – great distribution, managed game well from number 10 position
Rory Kennedy – revelled in his role amidst great forward pack display
Callum Wilding – strong aggressive display, always on the edge
Mike Whitehouse – turned in an aggressive performance, especially confident in set pieces
Nico Singh – defended brilliantly, didn’t get much of the ball on the wing, but chances will come next match
Zach Edwards – swift with excellent confident kicking (possibly my biased viewpoint!)
All the subs came on complimenting the side brilliantly; Sol Clarke, Attar Singh, Jay Matthews, Ben Ward, Nathan Fisher.
Thanks to AOE for a fantastic competitive game and thank you to Fred Farndon for refereeing.
Nice to see Ex- players turning up to cheer on their old team mates.