Myerscough march into BCS Final with gritty win on home soil
Myerscough College Rugby Academy played visiting side Coleg Llandrillo from North Wales in the British Colleges Sport Semi-Final at Myerscough Preston Campus on 21st March 2012.
Myerscough College applied pressure to the visiting Welsh side straight from kick off. A well placed kick by Myerscough full back Tim Jefferies put the home side deep into their visitors 22. The early pressure resulted in a penalty within kicking range after only 90 seconds. Electing to kick for the corner Myerscough signalled their attacking intention from the first minute.
Pinned down in their 22 the Welsh side conceded a second penalty. Sticking to their plan of attack, Myerscough again elected to kick to touch and this time the strategy paid off. A well-rehearsed ‘catch and drive’ from the Myerscough forwards resulted in the first try of the game, as Myerscough’s Scrum Half was bundled over by his pack for an early 5-0 lead.
10 minutes later and Coleg Llandrillo fought back. A well executed lineout in Myerscough’s half gave the Welsh side quick ball and a solid attacking platform. After passing the ball calmly through the hands, Llandrillo winger Sam McKeam rounded the Myerscough defence to score the visitors opening try in the corner. A well-executed opening try for Llandrillo brought the scores level at 5-5.
On 15 minutes Myerscough pressed again but Orisi Nawaqaliva spilt the ball just 5 metres from the line. Llandrillo winger Lewis Stockton was quick to act. With an empty Myerscough defence in front of him Stockton picked up and ran the length of the pitch. Despite a spirited chase from Myerscough’s Tim Jefferies, Stockton was too quick to catch and scored under the posts. An easy conversion handed the visiting side a 12-5 lead after 15 minutes.
On 25 minutes Myerscough gave away another penalty in their half for handling the ball in the ruck. Llandrillo elected to kick to the corner instead of taking a shot at the three points. A decision they would soon regret as Myerscough stole the lineout. At half time with the score at 12-5 to the visitors a place in the final was still in reach for both sides.
Making a strong statement of intent, Myerscough’s Coach Steve Gough made five changes at half-time, bringing on Eddie Webster, Connor McGrath, Olly Parkinson and Jonny Gorst, as well as England U18’s Centre Mike Haley.
The substitute’s impact was immediate. Prop Forward Connor McGrath showed great strength to score the opening try of the second half, driving the ball over the line from close range, despite being held by three Welsh defenders. After a dream start to the second half, Myerscough kicker Ally Addy converted to narrow the visitors lead to 15-12 within two minutes of the restart.
Not to be out done by McGrath, his England Colleges teammate, substitute Eddie Webster produced the tackle of the match so far. Following a ruck deep in the visitors 22, Webster pounced on the Llandrillo fly-half, dragging him to the ground, wrapping him up before the ball could be released and winning a scrum for his side in a dangerous position.
2 minutes later and Myerscough were starting too dominant with Myerscough No.15 Tim Jefferies impressing again from the back. Catching a high ball, Jefferies showed a superb turn of speed and change of direction to weave past a host of chasing Llandrillo players.
Minutes later and Myerscough winger Curtis Strong broke clear of the Llandrillo defence. Strong offloaded to waiting centre Orisi Nawaqaliva who demonstrated great strength to break through the tackles of three Llandrillo defenders. Finally dragged down 10 metres short of the line, Nawaqaliva popped a pass to Prop Forward Jonny Gorst who was too powerful to stop from close range. Gorst powered over the line for Myerscough’s second try in 10 minutes to hand Myerscough a 17-15 lead and swing the momentum firmly in the home side’s favour.
With just 30 minutes to secure a place in the BCS Final, tackles got harder and tempers inevitably flared, boiling over when a collapsed ruck lead to a brief scuffle between both packs – resulting in the award of a penalty to Llandrillo. Choosing to kick for touch, the resulting lineout caused Myerscough problems.
The visiting side were fighting back when 5 minutes later Myerscough handed them a lifeline. Spilling the ball in open field, Llandrillo winger Lewis Stockton punished the error, picking up and running through two Myerscough missed tackles to score under the posts. An easy conversion gave the visitors a 22-17 lead.
On 25 minutes Myerscough’s Ralph Dowds produced a superb individual piece of skill, running 40 yards after catching a high ball in the fullback position. With 18 minutes remaining, Curtis Strong picked up the ball again after a fluid passing move by the Myerscough backs. Strong lived up to his name, powering straight through a contact with his opposite number, scoring Myerscough’s fourth try of the afternoon and third in 20 minutes. Following a failed conversion attempt the score stood at a nail-biting 22-22.
With 10 minutes to go, man of the moment Curtis Strong was on the ball, this time with space to run at the tiring Llandrillo defence. After a superbly timed hand-off to brush past the Llandrillo centre, Strong powered down the right wing into the visitors 22, where he was finally stopped and dragged into touch. Despite winning the resulting lineout the ball came loose and Myerscough’s forwards were first to react, clawing the ball back to steal possession.
Prop and try scorer Jonny Gorst appeared with the ball. In a repeat of his first try, Gorst was too strong to stop from 10 metres out. Scoring his second and Myerscough’s fifth try of the game, Gorst gave the home side a commanding 29-22 lead. Thanks to a vitally important kick from Ally Addy, Llandrillo now needed a converted try to level the semi-final.
With 7 tense minutes left to play, an innocent looking ruck left a Coleg Llandrillo player on the ground and in need of treatment. Coaching staff from both sides assisted with the treatment but the situation appeared more serious than first thought. The referee stopped the match and an ambulance was called to assist the injured Llandrillo player. The emergency sides soon appeared on the pitch but called to request the assistance of the North West Air Ambulance Service, landing in the middle of the Myerscough pitch to fly the player to Royal Preston Hospital for treatment.
After the 40 minute pause in the game, coaches from both sides agreed to restart and finish the game. After players had warmed up for the second time, the match restarted with 7 minutes remaining.
Llandrillo needed more than a converted try to win the game and fought hard, coming close to scoring on two occasions, but Myerscough’s defence was resolute; refusing to lose their winning lead. Both teams showed determination and heart, which included a 40 minute period waiting for an injured player to be treated, but Myerscough’s comeback at the start of the second half had sealed the victory. Myerscough deserve their place in the BCS final and go into the game as defending champions having won the title in 2011.