Under 14’s Crowned National Champions!

Wigan St Patricks Under 14s claimed their second piece of silverware in a week, as a golden point decided epic against Siddal (Halifax) added the BARLA National Cup to their North West Counties League Title, won earlier this week with a Wednesday night victory over Newton Storm.

The game played in fantastic conditions at Post Office Road, Featherstone saw no quarter given or asked from any player in either team. Its was St Pats that got out of the blocks first with centre Jack Taylor, a strong running centre that caused Siddal problems all afternoon, crossing after slick handling from Marco Williams and Kian Fishwick. Not long after it was winger, Lewis Connolly that scorched in, this time a combination of Billy Sheridan and Coan Gildart creating the overlap. With Pats 8-0 in the ascendancy it needed a big effort from Siddal to come back. With a game that ebbed and flowed, that just what happened.

Siddal opened their account with just 8 minutes to go to half time and by moving the ball form left to right they created the space for their centre to nip in at the corner for an unconverted try. They again showed some great rugby ability to work the way back up field only for stern St Pats defence lead by Kaven Rothwell and Kieron Rennox denying the opportunity to add to that tally. The first half closed as their live wire hooker split the markers and dove in close to the posts, with the conversation successful, St Pats now trailed by 10 points to 8.

The second half started well for Siddal as they seized the momentum of the game and with their halfbacks orchestrating things, they threw everything but the kitchen sink at the St Pats line. Luc Slater and Max McQuahe were defending manfully along with Joe Charnock, whom probed at the Siddal defence at every opportunity. Eventually the pressure told and Siddal barged over for a converted effort to lead 16-8 going into the last 10 minutes. The Pats contingent rallied, with Charnock and Logan Astley increasingly prominent with ball in hand it was fitting that Astley, put into space by Charnock, threaded a kick through for Taylor to add his second. Minutes later Charnock and Astley against combined, with Williams who put Gildart into space to draw the lastman before handing on to Connolly to blaze in for his second. That tied the scores at 16 all. With seconds to go Pats repelled a Siddal attack, charged down field, had Jack Taylor denied his hattrick by superb Siddal defence and created the chance for a drop goal, Astley hit the woodwork and the game entered extra time.

The 5 minutes of extra time were not without excitement. Both sides continued to throw the ball about and got themselves into positions to drop a goal, the efforts of both teams sailed wide of the mark. With the 10 minutes of extra time deciding nothing the game entered golden point. The golden point period only added to the tension as the large crowd from both clubs really got behind their teams. Pats were the first to manufacture an opportunity with the drop goal attempt again going wide. Siddal then marched up field to make a chance and another missed attempt kept the game alive. Yet another Siddal attack was kept at bay then out of the blue a superb 60m break from Gildart set the position up for Pats. This yielded a penally for holding down which gave Pats a chance to kick at goal from out wide, again it missed.

Siddal once more came back upfield and this time crossed the line, only for resolute St Pats defence to get under the ball and prevent the grounding. Back came St Pats who looked to have the game won as a carbon copy of Astley’s kick caused confusion in the Siddal defence and Toby Brannon looked to have won the race to the ball, only for the try to be ruled out. The decision was contested an saw Pats down to 12 men. From the resulting penalty strong Pats defence forced an
error and gave the opportunity for Pats to take the game. Makeshift hooker Owen Fisher sparked his forwards to get in to position then fed the ball back to Logan Astley to hit the winning point. From 20m out the drop goal attempt was successful and sent the St Pats fans into raptures following almost 20 minutes of golden point rugby.

What a great advert for junior Rugby League and all credit to the players, coaching staff, parents and supporters of two great clubs. The game was contested in a fantastic spirit and a joy to watch.