Year 11 Rugby wow the crowd at AJ Bell stadium
Last Friday saw our hard working Year 11 side rewarded with the once in a lifetime opportunity to run out onto the pitch at the AJ Bell stadium.
They joined the evening’s schedule, entertaining the masses of spectators who had thronged into the home of the Salford Red Devils to watch their final game of the season against league leaders St Helens. The young men fought through 9 matches in a 9-a-side format against schools from all over Greater Manchester to qualify for the final against local rivals St Ambrose Barlow winning 7, drawing one and losing just one match.
They opened their campaign with a hard fought draw against St Patricks A which saw Captain Cauley Barber lead his team around the park, shifting the ball well from acting half Louie Hudson whose slick handling skills and footwork allowed our committed runners Will Anderton and Ryan Noa punch holes through defences and cross over to begin their tally of tries.
The following game we were up against a skilful and well-organised St Ambrose Barlow, whose passing out wide found space on our fringes and we lost our first and only game of the competition. Our players immediately rallied and confidence was restored when for the next seven games we racked up back to back wins with our passionate straightforward brand of rugby. Rapid scampering scoots from Roman Hoy put us on the front foot as well as hard yards down the middle by Dean Matley, Tanha Rouf and Matham Makki built a solid platform for us to play some imaginative rugby away from the play of the ball. This led to a frenzy of tries for Freddie Bradshaw, Captain Cauley Barber and what must have been the try of the competition when a long ball from Hudson allowed Jack Fitton to get on the outside of a defender and complete a diving airborne try in just inches of space inside the corner flag.
Our defences were unrattled and the team with intimidating line speed led by Dylan Maxwell and superb ground work by Luke Arnold meant that teams really struggled to gain any yards or momentum and we only conceded three tries in the next 7 convincing victories which further bolstered our confidence. This confidence was needed as we qualified in the second position behind Ambrose Barlow who went through the tournament undefeated. The players were undeterred by our opponents in the final and knew that if we played to our strengths with fast, straightforward ball controlling rugby league we could overcome our nemesis and the sense of confidence which grew as we watched the first half of the Super League fixture grew. At half time our year 11 Rugby team entered the field of play and those young men became giants as they were met with roars of appreciation and encouragement from the packed stadia from both clubs.
Early engagements were all passion and early carries by Will Anderton and Abdul-Abou Baker shook our opponents and it was clear we were no longer the same team that began this journey. Despite some last man defence from Dean Matley who tackled like a warrior throughout the festival Ambrose were the first to cross the line. Immediately our side rallied around Barber who slipped a pass to Hoy who went through a gap only to be stopped inches from the try line, Cauley then burrowed under to level the scores. Both sides worked through their sets with control and vigour and Maxwell who was bloodied in battle still never took a backward step in attack or defence. Again it was Ambrose who crossed the line with slick handling and a smooth finish to take the narrow lead. A lesser side would have now crumbled, but not these Lions. With one minute remaining Swinton played their set with Abou-Baker charging down the middle like a wounded buffalo again being stopped with three in the tackle but the gaps had started to appear, Bradshaw, Hoy and Anderton had their final say in the game scattering defenders and with one quick play the ball Hudson scooted, drew the markers span a pass to Barber who had shifted onto the wing and with the final second of the game rounded the defence to touch down in the corner.
The referees whistle brought an end to the encounter which no player will ever forget. A draw was the fairest of outcomes, opponents embraced and celebrated knowing that they had given their all and left nothing on the field, their performance was acknowledged by the crowd who cheered and clapped as these gladiators left the field of play, triumphant
Our team: Cauley Barber (Captain), Roman Hoy, Dean Matley, William Anderton, Abdul Abou-Baker, Freddie Bradshaw, Ryan Noa, Jack Fitton, Luke Arnold, Matham Makki, Dylan Maxwell, Tanha Rouf and Louie Hudson
Written by: Mr Lane, Head of PE