First county trophy for club since 2002
U16s Warwickshire Cup Final
Old Laurentian U16s 19 Barkers Butts U16s 5
It’s 16 years since any Old Laurentian team got their hands on a county trophy when both 1st and 2nd XVs won their respective cups in 2002 and the drought was finally ended when this year’s Under 16 team won their age group competition with a fine performance in the final at Earlsdon RFC on Sunday, writes Bill Wallis.
In the opinion of Head Coach Dan Volkman this final pitched the two best U16 teams in the county against each other, the sides playing contrasting styles.
Barkers place heavy reliance on their big forwards to dominate possession and punch holes in the opposition defence to set up their backs whilst OLs play an expansive, all court game and it was just that style that prevailed in a contest of high quality.
When Barkers tried to get their big men away they were met with a ferocious defensive performance by the Fenley Field side that blunted their attacking ambitions; and when OLs set their backs up they often lacerated the Barkers defence with some scintillating attacking play, forcing their opponents into some last ditch defending at times. To their credit, Barkers stuck to their task manfully but OL’s superior all round power always looked likely to win the day.
OLs demonstrated this in the first couple of minutes but were just held up a couple of metres out. Then, with 10 minutes gone, a well-executed backs move set up Matt Barnaby, the big wing powering his way over for a try.
It took a further 25 minutes before OLs struck again when number 8 Matt O’Connor picked up at a scrum deep in Barkers territory and drew in the back-row defence before sending scrum half Callum Cooke in for a try. A fine Dan Price conversion sent OLs into the half time break with a 12-0 lead.
With 15 minutes of the second half gone OLs delivered what proved to be the killer blow after Dan Price put in a long clearance kick into opposition territory. Barkers lineout possession was stolen and OLs set up a series of forward drives that forced their opponents ever closer to their own line until Matt O’Connor powered over, Price finishing what he had started with the conversion for a 19-0 lead.
As the game ran down, Barkers scored a try that their persistence and hard work had earned, but the day belonged to OLs and the trophy was theirs.
As with all Warwickshire junior age group cups, the winners have to fight their way through preliminary pool games before the quarter and semi-finals and this was OL’s sixth game in the competition. They can justifiably claim that their success was hard earned!
The Under 16s will bring the final curtain down on OL’s season when they host a festival of rugby at Fenley Field on Sunday, April 29, with the U16 teams from nine other clubs across the Midlands confirmed as participating so far.