A wet, grey day saw the Raiders entertain West Bank Bears from Widnes. With only three games of the regular season to go a win was a necessity for the U15s if they harboured any hopes of finishing in the top 4. STR prevailed but only after digging really deep to overcome an enthusiastic and spirited West Bank side.
What a change a week makes to the weather. The match kicked off with that fine rain that wets you through. STR’s initial phases of play matched the weather – drab and lifeless. West Bank started the more committed side and laid siege to the Raiders line for the first 15-20 minutes. South Trafford didn’t play the conditions well and didn’t respect the ball.
It was no surprise when the Bears’ pressure told for them to score the first try via their strong running, hard tackling number 6. A short kick-off that didn’t go the 10 invited West Bank to attack again. On the next set they went over from dummy half to take a 10-0 deserved lead.
About 20 minutes into the game the Raiders put together their first strong set of six in the match. A good deep kick on the 6th allowed STR to put the pressure back on West Bank. A knock-on was forced and the Raiders forwards set up the position for the ball to be moved wide for Ned to find a gap and score.
Straight from the kick-off Ted collected in his own 20 and with great determination charged through the Bears line to then round the full back and score a fabulous full lengther. James converted and STR were back in the match just 2 points behind. The tide had turned and STR continued to press up to half-time. West Bank led 12-10.
The half time team talk reinforced the message about playing the conditions. Strong forward running was needed, possession should be respected and a kicking game with the wind behind was important.
South Trafford started the second half on the front foot. The forwards were now making more yards and the game was being played in the Bears’ half. Joe forced a drop out with an inch perfect kick and STR took advantage on the next set as Dan managed to evade the defence to go over in the corner.
Holding a narrow lead the Raiders knew another score was vital. Ed Wheeler had one try chalked off by the referee calling held up. Not to be deterred, shortly after Ed Layfield jinked his way towards the line from dummy half before getting smashed with a shoulder charge. From the resulting penalty a trademark storming run from Ed W allowed him to spin out of 3 tackles to force the ball down. With another conversion missed the lead was only 6 points and South Trafford could not relax.
To be truthful the second half was the reverse of the first with West Bank finding it hard to get out of their own half. The big number 6 was forced to leave the field after coming off worst trying to smash Joe in a tackle. Jake had also retired injured by this stage with what was later confirmed to be a broken hand. All the best Jake for a speedy recovery.
South Trafford were determined not to let this one slip. Good field position created an overlap which allowed Sean to dive in low at the corner for the match winner. A deserved try for Sean for some enthusiastic ball carries and marker tackles.
The final whistle came shortly after. To be truthful it wasn’t the Raiders best performance of the season and it certainly wasn’t fluent but the conditions played their part in that. What the performance did show though was the fitness of the U15s as they finished strongly again and also their determination to work their way back into the game when faced with adversity. West Bank put in a very strong performance and made this a game that STR had to work very hard in to bring home the 2 points.
South Trafford Raiders 22 West Bank Bears 12
Tries: Ned Atkinson, Ted Williams, Dan Haslett, Ed Wheeler, Sean Green
Goals: James Wynn (1)
Match report: Mike Britch