St Bede’s U15’s, 8 – Thornton, 38
‘VALIANT BEDE’S EXIT CUP WITH PRIDE RESTORED’
This was a repeat of the fixture between the two sides in the group stages of the competition, in which Thornton had run out convincing winners albeit against a twelve-man Bede’s team. This time around, however, Bede’s had a full quota of players, if not their first-choice starting line-up. Although the result was to prove a similar story, the performance was a different matter altogether and the lads can hold their heads up high after a battling effort that was lacking in the first encounter.
Indeed, the first ten minutes were all Bede’s and, but for a couple of handling errors with the try-line at their mercy, they could, and probably should, have taken a well-deserved lead. Excellent approach play up the middle laid the platform for the lads on the fringes to score but, unfortunately the ball failed to stick at the critical moment and the scoring opportunities were missed. Thornton were visibly shaken and taken aback by the power and strength of the Bede’s forwards but, despite this initial onslaught, they soon got a foothold in the match with an excellent try in the left-hand corner. Further tries followed but at least Thornton were being made to work for their tries- unlike the soft ones that Bede’s shipped earlier in the season. Key to this improvement was far greater intensity, physicality and discipline in defence, which held firm on a number of occasions in spite of being put under intense pressure. Predictably, as the lads found to their cost, repelling wave after wave of attacks and back-to-back sets of six is virtually impossible for any length of time. Eventually, no matter how committed, cracks will appear and the dam will be breached. To their immense credit, however, the floodgates never fully opened and Bede’s can take great heart from that fact.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, although at least Bede’s managed to get over the ‘whitewash’ through captain and go-to man Michael Handol. The powerful, lean, new-look prop, never took a backwards step and kept going throughout. He deservedly crashed over not once, but twice, to the obvious delight of both his coach and team-mates alike. Ably supported by the likes of scrum-half Daniel Gaffey, the raw but talented Francis Campos and novice Tim Canning (who produced numerous effective offloads), Bede’s never threw in the towel and actually finished the game more strongly. Honourable mentions must also go to year 9’s Callum Bent, Jacob Wheeler and Cameron Gibbons as well as Jake Hewitson who made at least two try-saving tackles! Thornton, to be fair, were well out of sight by this point and fully deserved their win…we wish them well in the final against Oakbank at Odsal.
For Bede’s it was the end of the road and it has undoubtedly been a tough journey and steep learning curve for everybody involved. Despite results, however, there have been many plusses making it an uncomfortable but necessary ride. Individual players have improved and all of the younger players have gained invaluable experience, which will stand them in good stead next season. They have proved that, when we put out a full squad, they can be competitive and that bodes well for the future. I, for one, am certainly not discouraged and firmly believe that, if we can learn from our mistakes, we will be in far better shape for the challenges that lie ahead. This starts next month with an Emerging Schools ‘Nines’ tournament, which will hopefully provide a bit of end-of-season fun and a positive end to the year!