Penrith U 13s were keen to have a match this week, thankfully, last minute arrangements were made with Preston Grasshoppers following a second week of cancellations, Wigton U14’s this week and Tynedale last week.
A team of 15 travelled with Danny Taylor putting in a much needed guest appearance. With no substitutes available, management of injuries would be critical.
The day got off to a good start as we managed to get past the reception following last years flooded pitch and cancellation. Preston had a squad of 30 plus U13 players and were intending to play two matches, the task ahead looked huge especially as it turned out we were the only opposition. The warm up went well and everyone knew what had to be done, the lads were up for the challenge. Preston kicked off and immediately put Penrith under pressure. They were quick to the breakdown and rucking well. Penrith put in some good tackles and up quick in defence. This paid dividend after six minutes when Joseph Robinson (centre) timed his run to perfection intercepting the ball and running from well inside his own half. It looked a cert as he flew straight up the middle of the pitch. However, their left wing loomed and a last ditched tackle stopped Joe feet from the line. Support was at hand, Callum Harkes (centre), Louie Johnson (stand off) and Tom Kirk (full back) a pick up and touch down by Tom secured the try to the left of the posts. Ed Smith (No8) converted comfortably adding the two points 0 – 7. With their heads up and with “The bit between their teeth” Penrith dug in. They were rewarded with an excellent try on eleven minutes following several phases of play. The forwards released the ball to the backs, slick handling left Callum Harkes to finish a memorable try. In the words of a wise man! (Gary the COACH) “That’s the best try I’ve ever seen”. I’m sure endorsed by all parents watching including Preston’s. Brodie Glendinning (No 7) narrowly missed the angled conversion, 0 - 12.
Well we’d already bucked the trend of first half lethargy seen in previous games. The start was positive and the challenge was to maintain the momentum. As expected Preston came back with dogged determination, pushing Penrith back into their own half. They rucked the ball well getting the bigger players involved. A dubious try was awarded as a dive over the Penrith line looked like the ball was dropped (from where we were stood anyway!) A simple conversion closed the score to 7 – 12 where the first half ended.
Louie started the second half with a good drop kick into the sun. Preston picked up where they’d finished the first half. Playing to their strengths and substitutes (good players with presence) they again went over after just three minutes into the half. Another simple conversion put Preston into the lead 14 – 12. The game ebbed and flowed for the next 20 minutes, our scrummage struggled and Preston’s rucking was getting better. However, our tackling remained strong especially through the middle, in the backs and on both wings. Some excellent defence on our line resulted in a 22 metre drop out. A quick thinking Louie Johnson feigned a drop out to the right, then went left over the top of a shallow defence. The back line were ready and Joe Robinson was onto it like a flash, another display of brilliance, this time resulting in a well deserved try into the corner after 23 minutes of the second half. Louie Johnson's conversion attempt just didn't have the legs, 14 - 17. With only minutes to go, frustrated coaches were shouting for Louie to take a kickable penalty, keeping his focus he didn’t hear and there was another crash ball for Toby King (No3 prop)
The only clock watchers by now were the coaching team. With the clock on 25 minutes, the refs whistle was on hold as Penrith once again drove forward with surging runs from the backs and forwards, their fitness seemed to be getting the better of the opposition. Brodie made a decisive break that sucked in a couple of defenders, unselfishly he passed to Tomas Kirk. The try was on and support on his shoulder in the form of Louie, Tom took the tackle and last line of defence just 2 yards out. A pop up ball and immaculate handling made life easy, a simple touch down to the right of the posts put Penrith another five points up. Ed’s kicking was again true 14 – 24. By now our little heroes were smarting, Aiden Cavaghan (No1 prop) was carrying rib injuries and Toby a nasty thumb sprain. Both wanted to see the game out and were encouraged by the impending whistle. Preston kicked off, Penrith retained possession and an intelligent Callum H quickly got his hands on the ball, the same well and truly wellied into touch. Phew! Full time… A fantastic effort by all, we rose to the challenge and on that form we’re the match for any team. Well done, you showed great strength of character to go away and win against such a strong team.
Players View – Penrith v. Preston (24-14)
Hi everyone, I’m Callum Campbell and today I was a very proud player to play for Penrith and be amongst some truly amazing people. Everyone put every ounce of effort into their game and we came out on top! I’d like to give some shout outs to Isaac who caught some great ball and tackled phenomenally. Aiden who although nearing the end of the game acquired an injury he kept on playing with some great tackles and Mathew who played his best game so far and stopped some skilled runners on the wing. I’m also quite impressed with our fitness and thought that aspect won the second half with some opposition slowing. Another great aspect of the game was some of the runs leading to tries. Joe Robinson skilfully intercepted the ball and flew up into their half quite comfortably, which took us into the lead during the first half. WELL DONE!
At the beginning of the second half we still kept good defence although they scored another try. At this point everyone was tired but although they succeeded in their conversion, taking them into the lead, they had no idea that before the match was over our lads would score two tries and a conversion conquering them (for now).Well done everyone you should all be as proud as I am and look forward to meeting Preston again within a few weeks! So to all the players and parents thanks for reading my views over this successful match. So until next time…. Byeeeeeeeeeee!
By Callum Campbell