Staffordshire Under 15’s v Lancashire Under 15’s
Plucky Lancashire 2nd String Take Their Opportunity Over Staffordshire
By Phil Hannah
On a really cold night in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, this friendly match was organised to reward those players who did not play against the Yorkshire win and the Cheshire defeat.
The objection was to put the fixture on the schedule for years to come.
When the match started, all the early pressure came from Lancashire and it looked like they had the bit between the teeth to impress the coach.
The pressure told as they opted for the first scrum of the match as oppose to a penalty when a Staffordshire player dived in coming off his feet in a ruck.
Staffordshire started getting some possession and on 6 minutes they had a well worked kick and run and scored the first try of the match. The resulting kick was not converted.
Shell shocked after the early try, Lancashire hit back with some good possession and thought they would score but for the ball to be dropped just before the try line which was open and beckoning them towards it.
Staffordshire were trying to add to their tally but the strength of Lancashire kept pushing them back and win possession which they did on many occasion. They had to capitalise their good play and not let it count for nothing.
In the 14th minute of the game Lancashire used their strength and some good passing for Ceiron Sutcliffe to put over the line to tie the scores at five all. Jacob Richardson missed the conversion from a tight angle.
Harrison Ross almost scored for Lancashire with a long run but was stopped in his tracks just before the try line. The match was all Lancashire at the moment. Ross had to come off shortly after through an injury to his shoulder. They will miss his runs.
Again and again Lancashire were getting close but continually got robbed on the try line, but on 30 minutes a well worked pass and run move resulted in Tom guest getting the ball over the line for Lancashire to take the lead. Again the conversion was missed by Jacob Richardson
At half time the score was Staffordshire 5, Lancashire 10.
Early in the second half whilst Staffordshire were moving further up the pitch, Ben Apps intercepted the ball and ran sixty yards with great amount of pace and score the third try for Lancashire. Another missed conversion by Richardson but Lancashire were firmly in control of this match. Lancashire were now making the most of the chances created.
Staffordshire immediately went on the attack trying to get back in the game but the defence by Lancashire matched them all over the pitch.
A miss timed pass nearly let Staffordshire in but a turn-over on the line meant Lancashire could clear the ball.
A lapse of concentration and some good attacking resulted in Staffordshire finally getting over the line and a conversion scored was going to give the match a nervy end for Lancashire with the score at Staffordshire 12, Lancashire 15.
The match was getting a bit stale except for some half-hearted attacks by Staffordshire resulting in nothing.
Lancashire right at the death broke through after some good pressure and Tom Guest scored his second try of the match. Substitute Alex Clayton scored the conversion from just under the posts with the final whistle going straight after.
Lancashire coach Bill Nicol said afterwards his team were the second string getting a second opportunity and a number of them took that opportunity and played some really good rugby. He was happy with the win and even happier with the performance. It was hard to pick a man of the match with so many decent players to choose from but went with number 7 Sam Shepherd for a commanding display.
Lancashire Team: 15 Oliver Richardson, 14 Asa Bottomley, 13 Tom Guest, 12 Joe Topping, 11 Ben Apps, 10 Jacob Richardson, 9 Joe Hutton, 1 Harvey Moore, 2 Cameron Wilkinson, 3 Oliver Mutch, 4 Lorenzo Brancia, 5 Ceiron Sutcliffe, 6 Andrew Goodwin (Captain), 7 Sam Shepherd, 8 Harrison Ross.
Replacements: 16 Josh Jones, 17 Josh Grundy, 18 Ryan Wolfendale, 19 Eren Dunbar, 20 Alex Clayton.