U10s worthy Festival winners of The Shield
A squad of 13 Young Cockles travelled to Plymouth for the Under 10s Devon RFU Festival. The rain held off, and both squad and enthusiastic band of supporters enjoyed a great day of rugby.
In all fairness the opening round of five matches did not go entirely to plan. The 7 minute, no half time, match format did little to suit a squad who excel at going the distance yet, with a high proportion of relatively inexperienced players, can take a little time to gel. A try against them within the first minute proved decisive in the first match, and whilst they held off further attack and rallied to produce several thwarted attempts to cross the line, when the whistle blew that sole try was enough for their rivals to secure the first win.
An uncharacteristically deflated team stepped out for the second match and their opponents saw their chance. Some brilliant lines of play showed what the young Cockles were capable of; Jory Salter, in only his second match so nearly scored; but gaps were seen and hesitation out of the blocks left them lacking.
A serious pep talk produced a more determined line up for the next match, where strong team work and a neat sprint down the line from Benji Horn, was enough to secure a lone try and their first win.
As they went into the knockout rounds the Exmouth Cockles really started to show their potential. Some clean passing and a strong defensive line combined with some serious driving work in the mauls, was enough to take them all the way to the final in the play off for The Shield.
The final match saw the Young Cockles up against a determined Teignmouth, who had worked equally hard to earn their place. It was an exciting match with some first class rugby on display. Whilst Connor Philp’s several attempts to cross the line met with an impenetrable defence, Benji Horn was luckier and once again managed to escape the pack long enough to secure the first try for our lads. But Teignmouth countered quickly with one of their own. Strong forward work from Scott Acheson, Raff Gill and Dan Brooks, whose superb try in the semis had secured the place in the final, was backed up by Ryan Langson, nursing a niggling arm injury. This enabled Horn again to break through the ranks to touch down just inside the corner flag, under a mass of fellow Cockles fending off a last second attempt to deflect him at the line. Led by the indisputable power of Harry Sale, and backed up by Solomon McIntyre and Will Baker using their strength to good effect. But Teignmouth were having none of it, and a light footed lad spotted a gap the Cockles left uncovered to touch down and keep the Cockles in their sights. Another couple of minutes and Dylan Foster, another relative newcomer to the game, demonstrated that he too could show his opponents a clean set of heels to produce the Cockles third try. Ieuan Brockway, whose consistently good tackling throughout made him a valuable member of the squad, then took his turn to cross the try line taking the Cockles into a 20-15 lead which they held until the final whistle. Worthy captain, Liam Daniels, proudly accepted the Shield on behalf of a team, whose ability to smile when the chips are down and rally when it is most needed, showed what rugby is all about. Next year, with hopefully a drier season to contend with, this formidable team will be well worth following!