Myerscough go down fighting in London final
Fixture: AASE Bowl Final at Twickenham Grasshoppers RFC, London
Teams: Sale Sharks AASE (Myerscough College) vs. Worcester Warriors AASE (Worcester College)
Kick Off: 1:30pm on Wednesday 28th March 2012
On a blisteringly hot day in London, the fitness and stamina of both sides would play a major part in what turned out to be one of the best, most hard fought games of the 2011-2012 AASE season. In their previous two encounters, Myerscough College had come out on top on both occasions.
The heavy defeats earlier in the season looked to help motivate the Worcester team as they looked the brighter of the two sides in the opening few minutes. Winning a penalty after 2 minutes, Worcester missed the chance to put the first points on the scoreboard as the kick sailed wide to right of the posts.
On 4 minutes Myerscough won a scrum on half-way. Signalling their intent early in the game, the Myerscough pack dominated the first exchange winning their side a penalty in a dangerous position. Electing to scrum again, Myerscough produced the first real attacking move of the game, putting the ball through the hands onto the wing, before kicker Ally Addy’s ambitious drop goal attempt dropped short.
Worcester looked like the dangerous side and the most likely to put points on the board after 5 minutes. A series of missed tackles from the Myerscough defence opened up space for the Worcester winger who produced an impressive run down Myerscough’s right wing to score the opening try of the game. Making up for his early miss, this time the Worcester kicker fired home the conversion to give his side an early 7-0 lead.
Soon on the attack again, Worcester dived over the try line from close range, but was adjudged to have been held up in the tackle. The referee brought the sides back for a Worcester scrum on Myerscough’s 5 metre line. After continued pressure, Worcester ran over their second try in only 10 minutes, extending their lead to 12-0.
On 15 minutes, Myerscough Fullback Tim Jefferies joined the backline in a sweeping attack. Jefferies expertly chipped the ball over the Worcester defence and into the path of waiting Myerscough Winger Curtis Strong. Strong capitalised on an error from the Worcester Winger to score Myerscough’s opening try of the game. At 12-5 Myerscough’s fight back had begun.
On 23 minutes, Myerscough Winger Ralph Dowds collected a high ball inside his 22. Running past four rushing Worcester defenders Dowds was finally bundled into touch 10 metres inside the Worcester half. A superb jinking run from Dowds highlighted the pace and attacking danger of Myerscough’s backs.
But it was Worcester who extended their lead after a superb individual run from their centre on half way. Touching down under the posts for an easy conversion extended their lead to 19-5. With the gap now standing at two converted tries, Myerscough needed to get on the score sheet quickly if they were to get back into the game. But get back into the game they did, and with some style to.
After a strong Myerscough scrum the referee awarded a penalty against Worcester for collapsing the scrum illegally. Myerscough kicker Ally Addy elected to kick deep to the Worcester corner. From the resulting lineout Myerscough’s forwards took charge and piled on the pressure, winning three penalties in quick succession. Pausing the game to issue a warning to the Worcester captain, a yellow card looked likely if another infringement followed.
A clash of heads at the breakdown left Myerscough and England Colleges Second Row Olly Parkinson lying on the ground but soon back on his feet after treatment. Myerscough needed to score after dominating possession and with just 5 minutes left in the first half, the game had reached a critical point. When the ball found its way into the hands of Myerscough centre Orisi Nawaqaliva, the Fijian was too strong to stop from close range and he powered over for Myerscough’s second try. Myerscough had clawed their way back into the game with the score now 19-12 to Worcester.
30 seconds from the restart and with just 1 minute to play in the first half, Myerscough’s Ralph Dowds was again causing problems for the Worcester defence. Breaking free down the centre of the pitch, Dowds expertly offloaded in the tackle to waiting Centre and try scorer Orisi Nawaqaliva. In a repeat of his first try, Nawaqaliava again stretched for the line, this time coming up short. With numbers on the right, Myerscough recycled quickly to get the ball wide into the hands of Second Row Olly Parkinson. After 5 minutes spent injured on the floor, Parkinson was unstoppable from 5 metres out, touching down for Myerscough’s third try and second in as many minutes. Another Ally Addy conversion brought the scores level at 19-19 going in at half-time.
After clawing back the 14 point deficit, a resurgent Myerscough team kept the pressure on at the start of the second half with a string of early chances. Winger Curtis Strong broke free down Worcester’s right but was bundled into touch short of the line. 2 minutes later and Second Row forward Olly Parkinson looked certain to add his second try of the game. From a rolling maul, Myerscough’s pack drove their opposition back, allowing Parkinson to dive over the line, but this time the referee called them back for a 5 metre scrum, adjudging the ball to be held up in the tackle.
Looking shell-shocked, Worcester were struggling to defend their lead. Only 6 minutes into the second half and the inevitable occurred. Myerscough centre Mike Haley executed a perfectly weighted kick over the Worcester back line into the hands of Winger Ralph Dowds. Dowds was looking unstoppable and easily powered past two defenders, diving over the line to score and putting his side in front for the first time 24-19.
Winning a lineout cleanly, the Worcester pack forced a mistake from the Myerscough forwards and a penalty was awarded for tackling the man in the air. Electing to kick for the corner, Worcester’s pack won the second lineout to keep the pressure on the Myerscough defence, driving the ball over from close range for their fourth try of the game. After a successful conversion, the lead swung back to Worcester 26-24.
On 17 minutes, Myerscough Centre Mike Haley caused more problems for the Worcester defence, breaking through the backline for the second time in only ten minutes. In the best move of the game so far, Haley kicked over the Worcester defenders and into the hands of Orisi Nawaqaliva on the wing. Nawaqaliva powered over from 5 metres for his second and Myerscough’s fifth try of the game. In a see-saw second half Myerscough’s fifth try gave them a narrow 29-26 lead.
With just 8 minutes to play the tension on the pitch was visible with both sides fighting to retain possession. Myerscough’s pack came under pressure, losing a lineout deep in their 22 and conceding a penalty in a dangerous position. A solid scrum gave Worcester quick ball. Putting the ball through the hands the resolute Myerscough defence dragged them down 5 metres short. But it was Worcester’s forwards again who, for the second time, showed great strength up front to run in their fifth try and regain the lead at 31-29 following an unsuccessful conversion.
With just 4 minutes left to play, both sides were starting to feel the effects of the hot weather and the ferocious pace of the game. Even at this late stage it was impossible to predict a winner. Whoever scored the next try looked certain to take the glory and the AASE title.
In a final late push, Myerscough’s Mike Haley found his way through a tiring Worcester defence, smashing through his opposite number. Haley weaved to dodge the tackles of a desperate Worcester defence before finally being dragged down 10 metres short. From the resulting ruck, Haley knocked on in the contact, handing Worcester a reprieve and the chance to clear their lines.
In a dramatic final minute, Myerscough launched one final assault on the Worcester line. Just 5 metres out with ball in hands it looked like Myerscough would surely score, until an intercepted pass left Worcester’s centre and double try scorer with room to run. Pinning his ears back the Worcester player didn’t look back – he ran the length of the pitch to score under the posts and seal the victory for his side.
The referee blew his whistle to call time on a magnificent encounter. The final score stood at Worcester 38 Myerscough College 29. It was a game that both teams deserved to win and no team deserved to lose, but in the end Worcester held on to be crowned AASE Bowl Champions for 2012.
For further details please contact Justin Clark on 01995-642241 or email@example.com
About the AASE programme:
The Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) programme is designed to meet the needs of young people, aged between 16 and 18 who have the potential to achieve excellence in rugby while pursuing an education at the same time.
The scheme has been running in 12 England Rugby Academies, hosted predominantly by the Aviva Premiership clubs since 2006.
The clubs running the RFU apprenticeship scheme have established partnerships with local education providers, with the chosen school or college delivering the Technical Certificate and Key Skills, and the Academy staff delivering the rugby element.