Cheshire U20 –  ( 35 )     v      NLD U20 – ( 5 )              2/4/17 

@ Wilmslow RUFC

A scorching summer day, a vibrant vocal crowd of supporters on the terrace, and a fresh re-lined and rolled playing surface at Wilmslow’s Memorial Ground set the scene for an exciting encounter in this ¼ final clash on home turf between Cheshire and the Nottingham RUFC Academy squad that comprised the vast majority of the Notts/Lincs/Deby team.  A very physical opposition were with few exceptions larger in stature than their hosts, and it was quite apparent immediately after K.O. there was clear intent to ‘feed’ all their ball swiftly across the park to their accomplished centres and wings as if playing a 10’s fixture.

What NLD perhaps did not expect was the tenacious young Cestrian’s rapidly unpicking their game plan, thwarting waves of attack with a solid defence. The bigger men were surprised by the self believe of their determined counterparts. NLD frustration spilled out with several isolated ‘off the ball skirmishes’ against the hosts. This frustration was managed well by the Referee and his able A/R’s, who not only played equal advantage but encouraged a free flowing game of rugby in ideal conditions implementing  rules by clearly expressing decisions. At 20 minutes an NLD penalty awarded close to the sticks was pulled wide, and the relentless ‘Battle’ for position, territory and control continued. At 35mins stage, with a blank scoreboard, a solid movement by the Cheshire forwards from a penalty against NLD released a very mobile prop to take a ball at speed, in space and charge over for the Cestrian’s first converted score.  7-0 HT

Make no mistake, NLD had the players to turn this game around. The Cheshire coaches’ advice in the interval was heeded well, Refreshed, Hydrated and focussed NLD were virtually prevented from stepping across the ½ way line. They were pinned back by their dominant determined hosts, and five further tries were swiftly amassed by Cestrians taking full control of the fixture at every scrum and line-out, placing this game well out of reach of the visitors. Three forwards tries and two well-timed runs dotted down by very able backs, was all the ‘fun in the sun’ the Cestrian’s could muster before the final whistle blew.

With the trimmings a 35 v 5 win to the hosts now means (by way of the groups) that we will again meet Lancashire in the Semi-final (Date / Venue to be confirmed – detail to follow) The NLD post dinner address dismissed their performance taking solace in the fact that before this game had commenced they had secured 12 players into the Midland Counties Team.  I’m sure they will be a more cohesive team next season.

After the game Coach Finnemore stated “The guys adapted well in the first half, they read the game and put up a solid defence, when they then took control of the game it was free flowing running rugby, but we are now focussed on Lancashire, who will bring a different team than the last one to play us, so were back in training to iron out a few issues and plan ahead”

Manager Ian Stanton  made a similar observation “The boys have played well today, this game is out of the way, and at the on pitch debrief  all the Lads were focussed on was the next game, They have gelled and have done everything we have asked from them so far, They now want more”

Thanks must be made to the travelling parents, supporters and the generosity / hospitality of Wilmslow RUFC in hosting this fixture.  It should be mentioned that Wilmslow catering and hospitality post game ( for a later function ) were disrupted by a late kick off caused  as a result of the Wheels on the NLD Bus falling off on route to the game.