Berkshire (26) v Cheshire ( 21) 16th November 2014
This final training fixture was perhaps the best challenge presented to test the mettle of new faces to this year’s National U20 campaign. Cheshire arrived at Redingensians Rugby Club to a warm welcome from Berkshire RFU, on an otherwise grey chilly overcast afternoon. Both small counties have met in the past at RFU HQ, and after a long journey Cheshire were eager to get into action. Some last minute injuries from Saturday fixtures allowed newer players longer exposure to make their mark. Berkshire Kicked off with Cheshire unable to exercise their practiced control of the ball Defence and attack were tested. Berkshire drew first blood with a converted try, and under pressure the determination of the young Cestrians soon secured a reciprocal score immediately after the restart. Tenacity, Guile, Physicality and stamina continued to be tried to the full , both teams were settling into a meaningful fixture neither side giving an inch either way, played in the true spirit of the game we love, to develop individual and team performance. Cheshire forwards exerted massive pressure at the scrum, Berkshire buckled, leaving the referee blowing under the post to award the visitors a penalty try. Celebrations were short lived as Berkshire responded well with an immediate unconverted try from the kick off.
The second half was less tempestuous Cheshire mastered their drills, made few unforced errors and played with discipline, confidence and patience, knowing that scoring opportunities will come with confidence and controlled multi phase possession. Exchanges were tight, with fine performances from players on both sides in a very, physical encounter.
It was good to see the Cestrians demonstrating expansive rugby, but neither side scored until the 75th minute with the hosts going over the line with a converted try. Cheshire were determined not to go quietly and in the last minutes of the game had the final say with a well earned converted try of their own. The win is always sought, and although the visitors fell short, this was a demonstration of the intensity of County rugby at this higher level, fast, furious and unrelenting.
Rotation of players allowed all to experience where they ‘need to be’ to compete effectively in the opening fixtures of this year’s challenge on Sunday 30th November 2014.
Overall a positive performance from Cheshire who are building for the start of the competition. The score line did not fully reflected the balance of play, there was still a feeling that the young Cestrians made too many errors to take complete charge of the fixture leaving winning points on the pitch.
Thanks must be made to Berkshire and the hospitality at Redingensians RUFC, hopefully a reciprocal test on the luscious green turf of Cheshire can be secured for next season. Also thanks to Duncan Wise for his photographic contribution to this article