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Cobham U17s win National Final Shield

U.17s beat Sandal 39-21. Full match report

Cobham U17s played in the RFU National Shield competition on Sunday 5th May and beat Sandal RFC U17s 39-21.

Huge congratulations to ALL the players, parents, Coach Robbie Kennard and Manager Jonathan Fussell.

**New**. See the  comprehensive match report below the photos.

U17s National Final 2013 #4

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U17 Final 2013 #1

 

NATIONAL KNOCKOUT SHIELD FINAL

 

COBHAM U/17S 39 SANDAL U/17S 21

 

Words and figures by Sir Graeme (Lloyd-Webber) Blackmore and Sir Peter (Rice) Lippiatt

 

The journey moves on;  from the rivers and fields of Henley to the urban environs of Bromsgrove and Stourbridge.  However, the West Midlands won’t be outdone when it comes to rivalling the works of Shakespeare.  Their history over the years has contributed to the arts world in fine style. There has been some memorable acting (Crossroads), timeless, soaring music (Slade) and thoughtful, penetrative journalism (Pebble Mill at One); talents not to be sneezed at.  Speaking of sneezing, it is extraordinary to see how many Cobham parents suffer from hay fever, clearly brought on by the recent spell of warm weather.  Many of them came down to breakfast at the Bromsgrove Hilton with pale faces, watery, bloodshot eyes, dry throats and croaky voices.  It can be a very debilitating condition (NB – both your correspondents were extremely allergic to something on Sunday).

 

Off then to Stourbridge RFC on the team bus.  Some inspiring words from Lionel, the Cobham President, and, as we pulled into the car park, George’s quiet voice from the back, “From 10.00 boys, let’s go”; minds fully focused on the match.  A great venue with a big grassy pitch.  Official team photographs completed in the sunshine where it was slightly disturbing to see that the Sandal Skipper sported a full beard!  Then came a full on warm-up, more parents, grandparents, siblings etc. arriving to lend support, a nervous but positive atmosphere. Sandal appeared from the changing rooms first followed by Cobham, both sides clapped and cheered all the way.

 

To the match: our somewhat speculative research suggested that Sandal were a side that liked to run the ball, so with Cobham’s all round handling style, we could be in for a cracker of a match.  Cobham, playing with the gusty breeze, safely secured the Sandal kick-off.  Inevitably, it was John who took the first pass and stormed off upfield.  George kicked on and Sandal cleared to touch.  Cobham’s first line-out was good, Sam crashed on to the 22 where Sandal conceded a penalty which George struck well and Cobham were off and running.                                                         3-0 after 2 mins

Cobham were again secure at the re-start, clearly something they have worked on as, when the receiver takes, one of the big forwards (usually John or Adie) was always on hand to take a pop pass at pace, and it was John again this time  who took the ball back into the Sandal half.  After several good driving runs by Cobham, Sandal managed to turn over possession and kicked.  George fielded on his own ten-yard line and ran it straight back, passing to Louis who ran through for a try converted by George. A wonderful start for Cobham.

                                                 10- 0 after 6 mins

This time the ball was knocked on at the re-start and from the scrum, Sandal kicked into Cobham’s 22.  Cobham lost their own line-out and Sandal had their first serious attack.  However, good loose play from Cobham turned over possession and George put Sandal back in their own 22.   From the line-out, Sandal tried to get their own running game going but, as ever, Cobham’s midfield put them under great pressure, the ball was turned over and swung wide to Ed who was nearly round the outside but just forced into touch.  Sandal were securing their own line-out ball well and causing some problems on Cobham’s throws.  However, another turnover forced by the Cobham back row saw the ball swung quickly to Ollie who stepped through the Sandal back line for another try.                 15-0 after 15 mins

Despite these early setbacks, Sandal were coming more into the game and their big full-back showed some real pace on a dangerous run (apparently he plays Rugby League at 2nd Row!!).  Possession was changing hands regularly with Cobham trying to get their offloading game going from their turnovers.  An attacking kick from Sandal bounced fortuitously back into John’s hands; he made ground and popped to Louis who was off on one of his weaving runs, eventually to be tackled by the full-back.  The support was there from the forwards, the ruck was won, good hands to Ollie who cruised over for his second.  George added the conversion.

                                22-0 after 25 mins

Cobham’s kick-off return worked well again and George had a good run through the first line of defence but the pass was knocked on.  Then Sandal made the handling error and Cobham had an attacking scrum from which they put together a series of awful Barnes Wallace passes but, as often happens with those, the defence lost their shape and hesitated.  Ollie picked up and weaved his way under the sticks for his hat-trick try.  George added the extras and Cobham were at a point a minute.         

29-0 after 29 mins

Soon after the re-start Sandal seized on a Cobham knock on in the loose and mounted their first period of sustained pressure.  From a ruck, their full-back countered the Cobham rush defence with a neat chip.  The bounce was kind and he was over under the posts.

                       29-7 after 33 mins

Cobham tried desperately to have the last word and George put in a lovely kick for Jamie to chase but the bounce just eluded him and the half-time whistle went.                                               Half-time 29-7

The first half had been played at frantic pace with Cobham looking the more comfortable in all aspects except perhaps lines-out where Wil’s presence was clearly missed.  In the tight, Tom, Richard and Chris looked very comfortable and were all contributing to the hard yards. John was leading the pack with his powerful runs with Adie and Hugh always around to gain further ground.  Sam and Freddie were going well, securing turn over ball and the backs looked to be far superior. The tackling was good from 1 to 15 and George was managing the game with great calmness and maturity, always looking to run but kicking well when necessary.

 

Your roving stato caught some words from the Sandal skipper after one of Cobham’s tries, basically saying that we were quicker and more physical so it was up to everyone to grab a shirt and bring them down.  Nice to hear some quiet realism and how to counter instead of some of the noisy, negative rants we have heard from oppo coaches over the past few weeks.

 

Clearly the Sandal coaches also said the right things at the interval as, far from letting their heads drop, Sandal begun the second half well by putting together some better periods of play and Cobham decided now was the time to have their weekly team wobble.  The Cobham forwards continued to make good yards but the support after the tackle was not always quick enough and the Sandal back row created a series of turnovers through very good co-ordinated work.  Then from a line-out, the Sandal No 8 broke through a couple of tackles and seemed set to score.  He was brought down just short and Sam secured a vital turnover for George to clear.  Cobham then conceded a penalty and an excellent kick put Cobham right back in their 22.  Sandal put together a well drilled drive from the lineout which saw them over for their second try and another fine kick added the extras; game on?

                           29-14 after 8 mins

Cobham clearly now took a deep team breath and started to reassert themselves.  Good driving took the ball into Sandal’s half and a good run from Cookie supported by Sam just broke down.  The Sandal Full back then had another fine run and only desperate Cobham defence prevented the inside pass to the winger.  The game swung to and fro with Sandal showing they liked to run the ball also.  However, their handling frequently went astray and the sound defence of Ollie and Cookie (who didn’t miss a tackle all day) kept them wrapped up.  Their fly-half had a very good boot and often put Cobham back into their 22 as well as executing some nice chips into the space behind the  rushing centres.  The back 3 coped well often supported by George covering back.  There was one dodgy moment for Cobham when a kick bounced awkwardly inside their 22 and was scrambled into touch.  Robbie was bringing some much needed fresh legs off the bench as the pace of the game had not slowed at all.  Then came the decisive score with a great team try that started on the half-way line. Hugh picked up a loose ball, it was run wide to Cobham’s right and Ed sped down the touchline.  The ball was kept alive and John weaved across the field and then on into Sandal’s 22.  Tired though the players must have been, the support arrived and the ball was swung back right again with a great reverse pass from Harry.  A final drive to the line, the Sandal defence scrambling to cover and the whistle went. After a lengthy consultation with the Touch Judge, the try was awarded to Freddie and the Cobham faithful breathed a collective sigh. George converted.                                

                                                 36-14 after 24 mins

The rest of Cobham’s bench came on and Cobham continued to apply the pressure, securing a penalty in front of the posts which George converted.

                                                 39-14 after 29 mins

To their great credit, Sandal carried on pushing hard to the final whistle and Cobham likewise continued to tackle hard.  Eventually, however, Cobham were caught offside in their 22, Sandal took a quick tap and went over in the corner.  A final excellent conversion was the last action.

                                Full-time 39-21

A wonderful game of rugby played at great pace with some ferocious physical encounters but played in excellent spirit was a credit to both teams.  Sandal deserve praise for the way they came back in the second half.  Indeed, my one stat for this report is that this was the only match all season where Cobham lost the second half....14-10. Although the Cobham spectators are never inclined to relax during the match, in reality, Cobham never looked like losing this one.  After their storming first quarter, they were always more than 2 converted tries ahead.  Collectively and individually, Cobham were always the better side and kept Sandal under pressure for most of the match

 

The post-match events were also a credit with mutual respect between the players and parents sharing a few beers with Sandal’s coaches who readily acknowledged that the best side won but they were justifiably proud of their team’s performance.  The long journey home was memorable also (although some memories may be slightly blurred).  Great singing and banter from youngest to oldest. 

 

A fabulous weekend to culminate a brilliant season and, as Andrew said in last week’s report, the culmination of efforts over a good many years for some. A lot of heartfelt tributes were paid at the Awards Ceremony on Sunday but some are worth repeating here. Fifteen young men were fortunate enough to take the field for this final but, as they and we well know, it is not just their efforts that have secured this trophy.  On the playing front there are their teammates on the bench who waited patiently for their chance and then gave it their all: Alex, George F, Harry, Keiran and Seb.  Those also who have suffered injuries and could not be considered for this match but have contributed in no small way to the progress of the team: Adam, Craig, Luke, Patch and Wil.  We must also acknowledge the invaluable contribution made by the U/16 players who stepped in when asked and performed so well.  Although the Lippiatts have only been involved with Cobham for three years, I will make so bold as to think that I speak for all the Parents and supporters when I claim that it is a real delight to watch this team playing such an exciting brand of quality rugby, in the best spirit and with great discipline. No arrogance or prima donnas here, just a fine team who play as much for each other as themselves.  It is also a pleasure to be associated with them off the field.

 Chaps, you are a credit to yourselves, your Club and your families and you have thoroughly deserved the success you have achieved.  Perhaps I can also, on behalf of the parents express our gratitude to the management team who have made all this possible: to Robbie and Broadie for how they take the skills of this group of players and make them into a team that exceeds those individual skills.  Let’s not forget either the “Just reached Fifty First Aid Fillies” who keep the injured players and, on occasions, themselves plastered. Finally to Jonathan who must have worn out at least two keyboards to keep us in the picture and, behind the scenes, get involved in lengthy and difficult negotiations on fixtures and other issues where he is determined to get the best result for Cobham.  It nearly always seems to turn out in our favour – coincidence? luck? I think not. Just complete commitment and dedication. 

 

I could have spent a lot more time talking about the social side of this great weekend but I think this report is quite long enough.  However, if you would like to know more and obtain a complete picture of what happened, please contact Andy Cordery who I’m sure has total recall. Just a final request to the squad for next season: If we promise to ensure a certain Welshman increases his current 2 song repertoire, will you please increase yours beyond 5 songs most of which seem to be sung to the same tune! 

 

 

Peter

 U17s final 2013 : stats