A big ‘Congratulations’ to Cheshire U20’s who became the Winners of the Jason Leonard 2017 National U20 competition. Cheshire Played against Dorset & Wiltshire on Sunday 7th May at Moseley RUFC.
Jason Leonard 2017 National U 20’s Final
Cheshire (29) v Dorset + Wilts (20) @ Moseley RUFC 7/5/17
Glorious sunshine, a quick dry playing surface, accompanied by fabulous vocal travelling Cestrian support ringing out from the Moseley Terraces and a capable challenging opposition, set the scene for what was to be an enthralling final battle in this National competition final hosted by The RFU at Moseley.
This year’s Cheshire Under 20’s team, have gelled in a unique manner to encourage, challenge and improve each other’s performance both on and off the pitch. The ‘otherwise rivals’ from our county teams coming together to represent our fine county’s rugby heritage in the true spirit of our noble game. The players making the commitment to train, and compete at this higher level.
The travelling combined ‘Durnovarians and Moonrakers’ team, refreshed from their overnight stay in Coventry were undoubtedly the most organised team the young Cestrian’s had faced this year, Dorset may have been keen to excite but were prevented from doing so by a solid Cheshire defence, continuing forward superiority at the set piece allowing controlled release of the backs. Not to take anything away from the quality of the opposition today, a very active Dorset back line, throwing the ball wide and cutting play back to runners seeking to break the gain line, but they were equally matched at Moseley today to halt their intent in this contest.
Dorset were shocked when within a minute of kick-off, The Cheshire scrum half collected their ‘spill’, and with a skilled cheeky chip and a raging cheer from the terrace he dotted down to set the mark of what was to be an enthralling 80 minute encounter. Cheshire demonstrated their own skill and kept the ball alive & following 15 phases in play successfully put the right winger into space where he sprinted over the white wash, for another converted try in this charged competition for one prize. Both teams with a ‘brace of tries a piece’ left the field at the break at Cheshire 17 Dorset 13 .
Immediately after the re-start the Cheshire forward dominance again continued and in a rolling maul close to the Dorset line, the continuing multiple infringements to impede the charge were just too much for the man in the middle Mr Thomas, who ‘blew’ for the penalty try in the young Cestrians favour. This was followed 10 minutes later by a ‘battering -ram‘ mismatch where the Dorset backs sought to impede the charging Cheshire No 8, who with a 40 metre sprint dispatched the ‘last guard’ full back to hit the try line at full pelt.
Four Cheshire Tries to three from the opposition, in a thrilling encounter,tallied alongside conversions and penalty points saw the final whistle blow at 29 to 20. The true competitive spirit in which this final 80 minutes was played was a credit to both camps.
After the game Manager Ian Stanton said “ We came here today to do nothing other than play our own game, and we did that. This year’s objective was promotion and we did that as well. We knew Dorset had a capable back line, but so do we as you have just witnessed, Were only a small county, but we punch above our weight ! and it was interesting to see the two sets of backs perform under pressure. Our guys played some great rugby today, the forwards set the control and it became clear that any mistakes would be punished if we didn’t keep a grip on this game. As I’ve said before, I’m very proud of all the lads all of who have ‘bought in’ to the commitment to get to this stage. I know that the Cheshire management team and the two coaches, who played a valuable part in this, Mike and Tom have similar high regard for the guy’s efforts, and again I would like to thank them on behalf of the Team and Cheshire RFU for their personal commitment this year. Now we can all relax and then at the end of summer we can start to prepare for the fresh challenges 2018 season brings and build on what we have achieved together”
The run of games that led to this final are as follows;
Staffs (5) v Cheshire (31) 26/2/17
Cheshire (41) v Lancs (7) 16/4/17
Cheshire (35) v NLD (5) 2/4/17
Cheshire (22) v Lancs (17) 16/4/17 @ Birkenhead
A number of thanks must be made, firstly to the Cheshire Clubs who released their players to compete. To the squad players who trained and didn’t make selection, The players (and coaching staff !) recovering from injury, The RFU and Moseley RUFC for hosting this fixture, and importantly thanks to The Dorset team who turned up seeking the same prize and although they only left the field with runners up medals, they certainly won the respect of their Cheshire counterparts.
Thanks must be to the travelling Cheshire parents / supporters who’s vocal encouragement and words of advice from the touch line was very much appreciated by all.
And the final thanks; Is to the players themselves, who as a group took no backwards steps, spent their time to rise to fresh challenges and displayed loyalty camaraderie and commitment at the highest level to this years cause.
As the older players now leave, they are particularly thanked for their commitment and tenacity over their previous 2 years and are wished the very best for their future studies / roles. The junior members of this year’s squad now progress to senior roles having been set a fine example to ensure continuity is maintained and built upon… The best is yet to come !
North and England Counties
Five of The Cheshire team from this years competition were selected for North of England duty;
Chris Taylor (Capt), Matt Palphreyman, Johnny Whittaker,Tom Poole and
And from this three were further selected for England duty; Chris Taylor,
Johnny Whittaker, Charlie Venables.
Every success is wished to them for their forthcoming fixtures !