Cheshire Under 20’s ( 20 ) v Lancashire ( 0 ) @ Crewe & Nantwich RUFC 25/1/15

Cheshire were playing for pride in this fixture, not the position they envisaged to be in at this stage of the competition. But…… despite the deserved win, errors still cost dearly, not assisted by some clumsy kicks, not making the line, missed penalties, conversions and a disallowed try.

A ‘determination’ was apparent from the kick off. This was to be the final performance of some within this closely bonded group of players, as they would make way for the new blood.

As a team they were focussed, intent on making their mark. And they did  ! . A tumultuous chase from the ‘off’, not only stole the Lancashire catch, but set up a scrum from their resultant knock- on infringement. At the 3 minute stage; Cheshire entered ten controlled phases of play and a well deserved try cut in from the right wing.

A missed conversion was closely followed by a successful penalty at 14 minutes following Lancs holding onto the ball in their 22 at the breakdown. The pressure was building against Lancs with all but two brief forays into the Cheshire ½ of the pitch, and at 32 minutes a deliberate knock on in their 22 prevented a further Cheshire try and sent one of their players to the bin. A Cheshire scrum 10 metres within the Lancs ½ again demonstrated 7 controlled phases of play, a three man overlap on the right wing, set up a simple well drilled run in…. practiced many times……but surprisingly to all..(On and off the pitch!)…..a cross field kick (not appropriately weighted to be successful) was delivered…….closely followed by a Yellow card against the Cheshire attempt to regain control of the ball. Hurried decision… Simple points lost. Half time score 8-0

The second half was much of the same story, total dominance of the scrum and line by Cheshire, and after the restart at the 47minute stage Lancs had their only meaningful foray into the Cheshire 22, where for some 5 minutes they met a solid Cestrian defence……. As Lee Halfpenny’s granddad would say “none shall pass” and they didn’t.

At 65 minutes, A solid Cheshire scrum again not only pushed Lancs off the ball,(again) but demonstrated Cestrian confidence, control and team work with seven phases of movement resulting in a converted try. The 78th Minute saw advantage played to Cheshire following a series of Lancs infringements but the try was disallowed deemed as an advantage too far. Some of the officiating decisions favoured neither team and appeared inconsistent.

You can never dominate a game for the full eighty minutes, but Cheshire came close, they had the Lion’s share of possession and control, conceding only some 10 minutes to a brief meaningful Lancs attack. Lancashire lost all their scrum, and lineout and were physically out-muscled by a young Cestrian pack who remained too much of a ‘handful’ for the opposition to deal with. Additionally the Cheshire forwards were mobile and powerful in close play. Set piece, Scrum, Line all went Cheshire way; Cheshire finished strongly but still left 22 easy points on the pitch.

After the game team Manager Ian Stanton said   “Even though we displayed total control for the majority of this game, we still made some simple mistakes, only more time on the training paddock will stop that and we are already planning next year’s strategy to ensure the ‘drilling’ the ‘second nature’ response can be put in place early. We did envisage being further on at this stage. It’s been a privilege to work with these guys and it’s a shame we have to lose some of the senior lads as they progress with their own rugby careers. It’s nice to know Cheshire U20s helped their individual development and they collectively made this County team a great place to be for themselves their team mates and their home clubs “

Thanks must be made to Crewe and Nantwich  RUFC for their hospitality in hosting this fixture. It is hoped that the strong performance by some of the Cheshire players in this (and previous fixtures) has provided sufficient evidence to observing selectors for further recognition of their talent and ability.

Specific thanks must be made to head coach Giles Heagerty, His antecedents is known to most, and needs no explanation here. This was the last U20’s game under his stewardship. Giles has supported the county U20 team for the past 4 seasons and his ‘expansive’ method of play brought a well honed Cheshire team to the Twickenham national final 2 years ago.

Paul Langton (U20’s chairman) expressed thanks for all Giles efforts both personally and on behalf of, the  U20’s coaching team, players past and present who had benefitted from his skills, and the Cheshire County, that Giles has demonstrated his commitment  to as a player, a coach and as a manager. He is wished every success for the future.

And finally…… To the U20’s journeymen,… as the time comes to ‘pass the baton’ onto the new players . Thanks are firstly made to the Cheshire clubs that supported their release to compete in the National championship, But more importantly they are thanked personally for all their individual commitment to the U20’s cause, Wishing you  every success in your future careers both on and off the pitch.  Wear your tie’s with pride!..Remember….’Desire is the starting point of achievement!’

Nick Jones
Cheshire U20s