More Success at Vectis - Bowl Winners!
By Neil Fisher
Celts amazing run continues on the Isle of Wight!
An early start for the mini youth this Sunday as we travelled to Vectis RFC for their end of season Mini Youth Festival 2016. Cars and ferries were packed to the brim; I'm not sure the Isle of Wight has been busier! Thanks to everyone who got there earlier than I did and set up camp. The Vectis Festival is a gathering of 19 rugby clubs from across the south of England who take part in ages U7-U12. Some clubs enter more than one team if their squad is strong enough. The Celts managment team were quick to take the opportunity of an additional team when it arose. The coaches picked two mixed teams (Pirates and Buccaneers) to ensure we represented G&FRFC in the right spirit and provided the boys with an enjoyable environment regardless of ability.
The Pirates were pooled in Group three against formidable opposition - opening game v Alton RFC the current County Champions! Without fear, the Pirates attacked Alton at will opening up a 2-1 lead at half time. "Sonny Will" William May opening the scoring after a powerful drive nearly taking him into the dead ball area! Owen Williams executed a delicious off-load to set up Will on another drive from 10 metres out. The Alton defence were wary of this and put up a good counter maul. Charlie Fisher spotted the overlap, snuck round the side and a pop from Will gave Charlie an easy try - great way to start the day! Alton RFC made some significant changes at HT after under-estimating the boys from G&FRFC. A very competitive second half saw the usual Alton set plays and attacking runs test the Pirates defence - in particular Joseph Merchant-Locke and Aidan Bones were industrious with consecutive tackles thwarting many Alton attacks. A nervousness set in as the Alton game went up a notch and the Pirates lost the second half 2-0 to lose the opening game 3-2. A magnificent effort against an experienced club side. A positive start....
Next up were Wimborne RFC who had some very good individuals - another good test for the Pirates. Kai Williams nearly finished off a good team effort driving up the hill but fell short on the seventh tackle. William May continued his good run and opened up the scoring with a nice mazy run. I'm not too sure what happened after that try went in as Wimborne caught the Pirates on the break and locked down their defence. For the first time this season I saw our teamwork really put to the test, we had too many individual efforts and not enough teamwork. Tired legs and heavy heads were a worrying sign but after such a long season was it too much to ask for yet another outstanding performance? Wimborne finished up 2-1 winners after a close second half. Work was needed to stop the losses...
A strong team talk after the final whistle and a good group huddle seemed to inspire the boys into action against Beccahamians (Beccs) who were third up for the Pirates. The referee was certainly put to the test in this game with lots of infringements and lots of tries. Charlie Fisher scored a quick-fire double to put the Pirates ahead and suddenly everyone wanted to pass and support - the Pirates were back! Peter Headley was next to go on a run but found a resolute defence; the ball broke for Jake Hoare who doesn't miss many chances from 10m out - a great try. Beccs has possibly the most consistent "Plan A" using the dummy and used it to great effect using the blind side to their benefit and scoring 3 tries in return - a cracking game for the neutral (not for me!). The Pirates defence was solid in general with Thomas Hutchinson and Aidan Bones making a nuisance of themselves and Owen Williams backing up earning the turnover! Owen switched from defence to attack in a flash, spotted an opening and ran 3/4 of the pitch for a superb solo effort! Will May scored his third of the day to give the Pirates a 5-4 lead with seconds to go. Another dummy from the Beccs attacker unfortunately led to a last gasp equaliser - 5-5 final score. Phew!
Our final pool 3 game was against a Bracknell side who were looking very talented in their earlier games and were now facing a Pirate team on the up! Kai Williams had been given clear instructions to test his pace and he didn't disappoint! He broke clear to open the scoring and broke into a huge grin! Something had clicked and the Pirates were rampaging. Any sniff of a Bracknell attack was swiftly snuffed out by an outstanding defence lead by Joe Merchant-Locke and Aidan Bones - outstanding stuff! Thomas Hutchinson was next to score after a lovely mazy run showing silky skills. More tries from Charlie Fisher and Tom gave the Pirates a well deserved 4-1 victory and secured third place in the group. Third place was the best we could have hoped for after a slow start against excellent opposition. Spirits were lifting...
After news the other Celts team had also finished third in their group the race was on to get to the final. Both G&FRFC teams were drawn against teams from Bracknell in their semi-finals and the Buccaneers were first up! A good victory heaped the pressure on the Pirates to make it an all Celt final...could they do it!?
The prospect of facing their team mates was enough to fire up the Pirates and perfect individual tries from Charlie Fisher (2), Thomas Hutchinson and Jake Hoare sealed the 4-3 victory. An all Celt Bowl final!
Shirts reversed, banter exchanged, the scene was set! Suddenly there was a bit extra steel in the eyes and the focus sharpened. Superb tackles from Jamie Arnold, Henry Shaw, Daniel Walker, Harrison Bennett and Oliver Smith meant opportunities to score were rare. Each others strengths were well known on each side but Henry Moran found space out wide and scored 2 lovely individual tries. Owen Williams countered with 2 of his own to level things up but Buccaneers took the lead and in the excitement I didn't note the scorer (sorry). Aidan Bones popped up with another Danny Care-esque snipers try ;-) to even things up - a tight affair looking for one final piece of skill. It came from William May to give the Pirates overall victory but the Bowl was won by all the Celts after a superb day of rugby.
Thanks to all the parents who made the effort to get the players over - we only have such a good squad because you keep bringing them each week - THANKS.
Thanks also to our sponsors Solent Fire Protection Services http://www.solentfire.co.uk the boys look amazing and it could not be so without your funding - THANKS.
Thank you to Cecily for scoring - I know how hard it can be!
Well done to all the coaches and managers for such a successful end to the season - it is certainly worth the effort when you see the boys enjoying themselves even when you know they are knackered!
It has been a long season with lots of away days but it is all good experience for the boys in such an important year of their development. We'll have a fun day next week (kindly organised by Jamie) before we sign off 2015/16 with the awards presentation the week after.