Tuesday 25th April 2017.
Rochdale 17 v Leigh U14's 17
Leigh Dragons visited Rochdale to contest the Lancashire Cup development trophy final in what was expected to be a close contest.
Both sides could class themselves unfortunate not have progressed further in the main draw and off the performances they gave they must be ranked in the top 3 or 4 sides for next season.
The game started at a ferocious pace with both sides going at it, with big hits flying in and solid carries bending the defensive lines.
It was Leigh who broke the deadlock with outstanding hands down the line sending the flying Tom B over. 0-5.
Leigh were now brimming with confidence, and were offloading at will and 5 minutes later Ethan W crossed after another flowing move but the referee deemed the final pass forward.
From the resulting scrum Leigh switched off and allowed Rochdale to gather the clearing kick to race over unopposed. 7-5
The game was going end-to-end and all in attendance were enthralled with the levels of skill and commitment on show from both sides.
It was Rochdale who extended their lead after sustained pressure gave them a score out wide. 12-5 half time.
During the break the team spoke about not panicking with the ball and areas where to attack the Rochdale defence. This didn't seem to sink in with the boys throwing the ball around at will with only either the final pass going astray or a dropped ball when clear stopping the score coming. Eventually it paid off with another superb shift right freeing up Tom B to race over again and improve the angle for Jack M to convert. 12-12 and game really on!
Rochdale wouldn't go away and carried the game to Leigh, only brave defence from Loui B stopping an attack down the middle. The moment of the match came when the Rochdale dangerman broke out of his own half and for all the world was going to race away and score under the posts. Somehow, out of nowhere, came prop Danny E who bust a gut to get back and pull off a magnificent try saving tackle. An outstanding show of commitment from a front row forward.
This spurred the Leigh boys on and they bombarded Rochdale with attack after attack. With 4 minutes to go Leigh won a scrum on half way. Jack M, Jack T, Tom B and Loui B worked their magic to send Tyler B hurtling towards the corner to touch down and with the Leigh fans in raptures they were in front. 12-17.
Still Leigh would not play safe and attacked all out, Tom B going close to sealing the win out wide on the left. But Leigh's adventure would be their undoing. With one minute to go they had the feed at a scrum on half way and rightly chose to go for it. The ball was knocked on, giving Rochdale one last attack. The big number 8, who had a magnificent game, picked the ball up and set off on a run out wide right, knocking off Leigh defenders as he headed for the line. A group of defenders surged towards him and a huge collision ensued and with baited breath the spectators waited for the outcome. Try was given. No-one could look as the conversion was taken but it fell short and the referee blew for full time.
To not win a final in that manner was hard to take but credit to both teams for an absolutely outstanding game of rugby played in the right spirit. It was an honour to be involved in and an example of how the game should be played.
Boys, you have done a tremendous job all season and given your all every week. You are a credit to yourselves and your families and i am immensly proud of you all.
Best of luck to the RL lads in their season ahead and thank you for your commitment to us.
Now for some fun in France as we go on tour to Lille and let our hair down.
Well done boys.