Yorkshire Cup Under 15s Final
Sunday 28th April 2013 at West Park Leeds
Huddersfield 15 Otley 0
Otley were a bit of a bogey side for our lads. They know many of the players through School, District and County rugby, and there is a healthy level of respect for their abilities. In many ways we were pleased that we would be meeting them in the final; after all, they had beaten West Park Leeds in the Semis, the team that edged us out last year, so no one was giving big odds on the result.
In the build up to the final we didn’t dare call the result. We knew the lads would have to play out of their skins and keep their heads to overcome Otley, so we arranged for a coach to get us to the venue (West Park Leeds). It wasn’t exactly a journey spent in sepulchral silence, but neither was it funtime at the zoo. A bit of a warm up and run through, noting a wind that was gusting diagonally across the pitch, favouring the side playing towards the clubhouse, a chat from the ref and we were ready to play.
Kick off with Otley receiving the ball with the wind advantage, a deceptive gust took the ball into touch a few yards this side of the Otley 22. Otley fumbled the lineout and knocked it to the floor where it was dived on by hooker James Barnett who set it for the first ruck of the day. The ball secured it was shipped quickly to fly-half Rob Denton who burst through the first line of defence making vital yards before off-loading to lock Tom Kaye. He was tackled and Otley promptly gave away a penalty by going off their feet and sealing the ball off in the ruck. Scrum half Ed Garside tapped to go, but was whistled back to the mark by the ref.
A forward run saw lock Ben Longton hit hard just short of the line, whereupon our pack showed what was to become their dominance of the game by mauling over the line. No grounding meant an attacking scrum for Huddersfield five metres out. Otley played their trump card and outscrummed our lads lifting the front row. A warning and a reset and down they went again. This time a warning for Otley as they engaged early, so a third reset. The ref’s patience finally ran out and gave Otley a free kick as Huddersfield’s front row were over-eager.
Huddersfield had to build again, and at the next lineout immense pressure saw Otley trying to run the ball into the midfield where a loose maul formed, and the Huddersfield back row stripped the carrier. A fast and incisive run from inside centre Jack Cooper was met with decent defence from Otley, but the Huddersfield pack rucked ferociously to secure the ball.
Now firmly established in the Otley half of the pitch Huddersfield began to expand their game. Excellent distribution by the half-backs Ed Garside and Rob Denton saw quality ball fed to the backs to test the initially solid Otley defence. Possession remained mostly with Huddersfield and where the occasional handling error saw Otley with possession they found no way through the Huddersfield lines. A few attempts to gain territory were mopped up by excellent work from the Huddersfield back three, with Lewis Greenhalgh and Henry Wilkinson fielding some kicks for territory and running counter-attacks back from deep, denying Otley any territorial advantage.
In the set pieces the Hudderfield pack dominated the lineouts with good accurate takes from Tom Kaye and some great steals by Jacob Glover. Scrummaging was questionable given the quality of the Otley front row, but any resulting attacks from scrums were quickly snuffed by the impenetrable pack and midfield.
Hudderfield took play right into the Otley 22 from a lineout against the throw, and once again looked likely to score, only to be denied by a penalty in the ruck on the line. Otley cleared, but despite losing the lineout Otley managed a turnover deep in their own 22 and counter-attacked, this time to threaten the Hudderfield try line. Denied by the Huddersfield defence Otley gave away a penalty and we cleared the lines. Spirited attack from Otley saw them back on the 5 metre mark, and went through three phases into the massed defence of the Huddersfield forwards, probing wide to be denied by the ferocious tackling of Connor Field and Jack Cooper. A turnover right on the line from the best No 7 thief in the business, Myles Watson, saw the end of any danger from Otley.
Otley’s discipline in the loose was to lead to their downfall, as they gave away a penalty on their 10 metre line. Kicked to touch inside Otley ‘s 22 by Connor Field, a training ground perfect catch and drive followed by swift distribution to the centres once again saw Huddersfield on the attack. Jack Cooper took the ball into contact where it was gathered and run in by prop Jacob Glover, who burst through the defence, before off-loading down the line where it went through quick hands to find winger Harry Freeth in enough space to cross the line for the first try of the match.
Unconverted this signalled the end to a half where Huddersfield had begun to show their dominance in virtually all aspects of the game. The single try was maybe scant reward for the territory, possession and effort showed so far, but credit to Otley who had defended well and attacked on occasion.
The second half started with Huddersfield with the wind behind them, and they immediately used it to their advantage. Kicking for territory, able to rely on the excellent efforts in the lineout, Huddersfield now had Otley firmly on the back foot. Any attacks met with such determined defence that there appeared literally to be no way through. Otley’s attacking force was spent, with no answer to our pack’s aggression and strength in rucking, Prop Dan Millingon proving as solid as ever at the edges of the ruck, and back row Aaron Davis and Will Cambridge providing dynamic clearouts always looking to turn the ball over at every opportunity.
Huddersfield’s second try was an amazing joint effort. Full-back Lewis Greenhalgh running in a ball gathered over from a chip kick , sidestepped his initial tacklers and made a beautiful off-load to Connor Field, who drew two tacklers to create space, offloaded to winger Henry Wilkinson, looped back round inside and took a pass back where he muscled his way across from five yards out to power down for a ten point lead.
A further series of phase play continued to put Otley under pressure. Using the wind to best advantage Field and Denton kicked for touch and for territory. The forwards continued to boss the breakdowns and the inevitable result was second try for Harry Freeth who ran over a ball won at a ruck, and distributed in text book style out wide where he sprinted over the line.
Unconverted the final whistle blew for a 15-0 victory to the mighty Huddersfield.
Credit also to the Huddersfield bench of Harry Franklin, who played as a blood replacement for Rob Denton, Sam Mann and Ashley Boyles who brought fresh legs to the pack in the second half, and replacement forwards Jack Pilcher, Luke Brook and Sam Mann, who with replacement scrum half Rohan Stacey Grant were on hand should they be needed.
An emotional moment for head coach Jason Field as team captain Aaron Davis lifted the Yorkshire Cup, especially as we are reliably informed that this is the first time the cup has been won by a Huddersfield junior team in all of its history. Thanks to all those who made the journey across to West Park to cheer the boys on, especially Paul the club president.