Under 14s County Cup Final
By dan thomas
Camels Under 14s did the club and themselves proud, but were second best to a strong and wily Truro side in the County Cup final.
1 - Liam
2 - Oli M
3 - Billy (replaced by Oli B, Ferg moving to prop)
4 - Dom
5 - Harry B (replaced by Bryn)
6 - Ferg
7 - Saul (replaced by Callum)
8 - Cory
9 - Harry P
10 - Jack
11 - Aljo (replaced by Tristan)
12 - Ethan (replaced by Jordan)
13 - Thomas
14 - Charlie (replaced by Sam)
15 - Rhys
Unused replacement - Stan
Despite having more than their fair share of possession and completely dominating the penalty count, Camels were repeatedly caught on the break - Truro fully deserved their win, but the scoreboard doesn't really tell the story of the match.
Camels dominated the early exchanges, spending the first ten minutes camped in front of the grandstand in the Truro 22 with the crowd willing them to make it count. Truro were rattled, but they stuck to their plan - they double-tackled Camel's powerful ball-carriers aggressively, and they prevented Camels getting quick ruck ball by repeatedly infringing at the breakdown, to slow the game down and allow them to defend tap penalties with a regrouped and organised defence. It earned Truro an early warning from the referee, but it worked perfectly - eventually Camels were turned over, and a quick break and a smart kick later play was at the other end of the field. Truro's scrum won them good ball, their backs finished it, and for all their hard work Camels had conceded first.
With that, the tone for the match was set. Camels forwards worked tirelessly to make sure they had plenty of possession, and the backs consistently broke the gainline. Several times they worked their way deep into Truro territory. But they never got over the line - Truro consistently found the right moment to come up with a game-slowing infringement, a steal, or a clever kick to steal back all the hard-won yards. Truro were more professional and more clinical, and inevitably the tries came. The last particularly was a thing of beauty - Truro's fly-half breaking through the line, chipping the ball over the covering full-back and regathering without breaking stride to go in under the posts. Brilliant.
Camels, to a man, played well. The front row regrouped after a shaky start to match a bigger scrum, and all made contributions in the loose - Liam made some eye-catching drives with the ball in hand, Oli M constantly offered an option and at one point sidestepped a tackler and left him sprawling, and Billy tackled everything, ripped the ball from Truro hands repeatedly, and made some very hard yards as a carrier before being forced off - reluctantly - with a bang to the head late on. Harry and Dom are developing as a balanced second row partnership, Dom's raw strength and aggression complemented by Harry's game awareness and nous, until Harry's ankle injury took it's toll and he was replaced by Bryn. Saul continued his good form at openside, until Callum replaced him in the second half and made some strong breaks. Ferg worked tirelessly on the blindside, and Cory was his usual athletic self from the base of the scrum. Harry and Jack were dwarfed by their opposite numbers at half-back, but kept them honest with some sniping breaks and distributed sharply. Ethan had little opportunity to show his attacking skills against a blitz defence that clearly targetted him but tackled and kicked well until he too was forced off. Thomas beat his opponent and broke the gain line every single time, but the swarming Truro back row offered a second line of defence even he couldn't get past. Rhys was a reassuringly composed presence at full-back. Aljo tackled tigerishly from his wing, but never really got the chance to show his pace with the ball in hand. Charlie had one dancing break where he beat two tacklers, but was replaced at half-time by Sam whose defensive discipline and strong tackling ruined two overlap opportunities for Truro. Jordan and Tristan came on late in the game, to make it a real squad effort. The Camels boys were gutted to lose - especially by a score that says nothing about how well they played - but they can take some solace from knowing that they gave it everything.
Truro were very impressive, and there is no shame in losing to that side. To breeze through a tough draw to reach the final without ever really being stretched, and then win the final comfortably with a depleted side, is a remarkable achievement and all credit to them. Whether the concentration of so many of the best young players from around Cornwall in one side is good for Cornish rugby is a question for another time.
For Camels, they must pick themselves up, despite the physical and emotional battering they had today, and finish the season strongly. They now know they can compete with the best and the talent in the team is obvious - the aim should be to add the fitness, the discipline, and the tactical awareness they need to go one step further next time.
Thanks to Camborne for hosting, Truro for their sportsmanship in victory, the ref, the parents who made the trip to support, but most of all to the Camels team - following them through this cup run has been a privilege.