This seasons Year 8 Rugby League competition came to a climax yesterday as the Whitehaven Academy side took on arch rivals St Benedict’s in the County Cup Final.
The game was played on the new 3g pitch at Lakes College and Whitehaven were looking to avenge a couple of narrow defeats they had been on the end of by St Benedict’s earlier in the year.
Whitehaven didn’t receive the best start as they dropped the ball on the halfway line which gifted St Benedict’s some field position. A neat little chip to the corner by go to man Harvey Hill was pounced on by the winger and St Benedict’s took an early lead of 4-0.
St Benedict’s made use of the strong wind at their backs and began completing sets and putting some deep kicks down field. Whitehaven gifted them a repeat set and had to drop out in to the wind, this let St Benedict’s start their attack inside the Whitehaven 30 metres and on the 4th tackle some neat hands saw them go over in near enough the same place as their first try. Conversion unsuccessful, 8-0.
Whitehaven then seemed to come out of their shell and began running the ball with some venom and desire. Strong carries from Alfie Elliott and Dylan Grears got them to half way before Nathan Clark broke through a tackle and went all the way to score in a powerful effort that got Whitehaven’s tails up before half time. 8-4 St Benedict’s but all to play for in the second half.
The half time team talk lasted all of 1 minute as the players were determined to get out there and turn the narrow deficit around.
St Benedict’s started the second half well and got some good field position, a penalty gave them an extra set deep in to the Whitehaven half, a couple of dummies by Harvey Hill saw him find a gap in Whitehaven’s defence to score and put them further in front, conversion successful and Whitehaven now had a mountain to climb at 14-4 with around 15 minutes left.
The ever present combination of Daley Stables and Conor Underwood used their slick handling skills to get the ball out to second rower Luke Stockton who twisted his way through a couple of tacklers to put the ball down neatly with one hand, conversion unsuccessful but the deficit was now only 6 points. 14-8 to St Benedict’s.
Whitehaven began playing the type of RL everyone on the sideline knew they were capable of, Dylan Grears launched himself in to oncoming defenders and Mitchell Todd was a constant thorn in St Benedict’s defence. Some slick handling by Curtis Bowes on to Underwood and Stables found Jack Ainley who ‘basketball passed’ over a defender to find centre Blayne Graham, he stepped through a couple of defenders to put the ball down over the line. Conversion unsuccessful but the lead was now cut to 2 points, 14-12 St Benedict’s.
Whitehaven began piling the pressure on to St Benedict’s who started to concede penalties gifting Whitehaven repeat sets, it wasn’t long before the ball found its way in to Blayne Grahams hands again and he scored a sensational try from just inside his own half. The conversion was unsuccessful but Whitehaven had a slender lead at 16-14 with 7 minutes left.
St Benedict’s came straight back at Whitehaven and hounded their line, some sharp footwork from their hooker saw them go close on two occasions. Go to man Harvey Hill managed to get the ball in his hands and attempted to dummy his way to the corner, step forward Lewis Roberts who was having none of it and launched him in to touch in a heroic try saving effort which gave Whitehaven the ball back.
The resulting scrum found Blayne Graham who’s footwork and speed caught the defence napping and he shot up the pitch to score in front of the sticks, conversion successful and Whitehaven were in control at 22-14 with only a minute left.
The game was to and fro for the final part before the whistle blew and the players knew they had earned a well deserved victory.
A huge credit to St Benedict’s who, as always played some outstanding rugby league throughout the course of the game.
MoM: Blayne Graham
A huge thank you to all of the parents who have followed this team around all season
including to the National Cup games, the players have all been fantastic, they’ve had a superb attitude and have represented The Whitehaven Academy in the standard everyone expects.
The players have been invited to Mr Turner’s office this morning where he will present them with their winning trophy and will explain how proud he is of the way they have represented their school.