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Wirral U17 9 - 8 Old Rishworthians U17 Rishworthians crash out to last minute drop goal
Match report National Plate Northern Division Final Sunday 6th April
Rishworthian U17`s narrowly lost the National plate Northern final at Wirral to a last minute drop goal. It was heartbreak for the Copley side who were magnificent in all departments, despite missing influential scrum half Edward Cockroft to injury in midweek and long term absentees last season's leading try scorers Christus Ferneyhough and Chris Dyson.

It was the biggest game Old Rishworthian Juniors had faced to date, Rishworthians were boosted by the return of Anthony Oxley and Ben Robinson from holiday in the forwards. The injury to scrum half Edward Cockroft forced changes to the backs. Danny Chappell took over the role of scrum half and Tom Clough moved to inside centre. Ben Porritt returned on the wing, although struggling with glandular fever and full back Cameron Ramsden took on the role of kicker for the first time in his rugby career at the club.

Rishworthians kicked off the final on a very windy Sunday roared on by a large Wirral crowd and extremely good support from Old Rishworthian parents and friends. One coach had given up 3 Everton tickets and supporters from Warrington had also given up Everton tickets to cheer on the lads. Wirral obviously played with the home advantage and strong knowledge of the wind conditions which affected Rishworthians kicking. The game started at a furious pace, both teams starting strongly and piled on the pressure. Rishworthians forwards used to playing fast running rugby quickly nullified the large Wirral pack and soon became the dominant unit moving the ball up the field.

With just 10 minutes gone Rishworthians drove into the Wirral 22 and were rewarded with a penalty for hands in the ruck. Full back Cameron Ramsden strode up and confidently stroked the ball between the posts to put Rishworthians in front.

Rishworthians then spent the next 10 minutes defending their line as Wirral applied the pressure but the resolute defence refused to let Wirral over the white wash. However the pressure told and the referee awarded Wirral a penalty in front of the posts for offside at the maul. Wirral with a simple penalty kick levelled the scores. A good result for all the defending the lads had done only giving 3 points away instead of a possible 7.

From the restart Rishworthians applied the pressure and with the first half drawing to a close they upped the ante and from the back of a scrum picked up the ball and formed a maul to drive over the line for the first and only try of the match, Rob Jennings getting the ball down to score. Ramsden crucially was narrowly wide with the conversion. Halftime came with Rishworthians in control and in the ascendancy

Half Time Wirral 3 - 8 Old Rishworthians

The second half continued in a a similar vein, Rishworthians looking dangerous running with the ball, side stepping players and throwing dummies and Wirral becoming increasingly frustrated at their inability to break the impenetrable defence. Rishworthians almost added to their tally following a break by Tom Clough, who in the act of looking for support was just caught by a desperate lunge from the Wirral fullback, and had Luke Flanagan`s spectacular long pass, been collected cleanly then the game would surely have been wrapped up.

The Wirral backs were well and truly wrapped up and never looked like scoring until with 10 minutes left on the clock they finally got back on the score sheet with a magnificent 35 metre drop goal from the talented Wirral stand off, taking the score to 8-6. Wirral continued to press but with time running out it looked like the Copley men would hang on for a deserved win. Rishworthians kept a level head but with less than 1 minute left on the clock the Wirral fly half took his opportunity again and slotted over another quality drop goal to take the game to 9-8 in Wirral`s favour. Rishworthians raced back up the field and from the last play of the game, almost snatched victory with a drop goal attempt from Luke Flanagan which drifted agonisingly wide in the whipping wind to deny him the score and the match.

A disappointing result but a magnificent team effort and the side can feel proud of their achievements during a tough season. The lads had fought well. The Wirral coach acknowledged that Rishworthians were the hardest team they had faced all season, ripping their forwards apart. The pack had dominated and in all truth Wirral never looked like getting over the try line. The Wirral fly half had successfully kicked his team to victory, maybe if our first choice kicker had not been injured during the week it would have been a different result. We will never know. The lads can hold their heads up and be proud of what they have achieved over the season.

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