As a fitting finale to junior rugby Derby U16s faced their fiercest rivals, Newark in the NLD Cup Final on Sunday. These two teams had dominated the NLD Cup for the last five years, with Derby having won at U12s and Newark wining a triple crown of victories at U13s, U14s and U15s. Having lost to Newark in the final in two of the last three years the scene at Haslams was set for a battle of epic proportions, in front of crowd that most senior teams would be pleased with.
Derby dominated early possession but both teams looked nervous. Early attacks saw the Derby centres being halted by thunderous tackles by the Newark midfield. Derby are proud of their ability at the scrum and had a clear advantage from the start, making Newark work hard on their own put-in and winning two against the head in the early stages. Derby had a try disallowed during this early phase, but despite plenty of early possession and territory it was Newark who were to score first.
The referee had become frustrated with a number of Derby offences at the breakdown and sent one of the Derby 2nd rows to the sin bin, after a general warning. During this time the two opening tries were to be scored one from each team.
Newark played some of their best rugby in the second quarter when some excellent phase play led to a try for Taylor in the left corner. This seemed to focus Derby and they went straight up into the Newark 22 and built some excellent phases of their own, resulting in the Derby open side flanker Max Morley touching down after a strong break and pass out of the tackle from Toby Green.
Derby were now back at full strength for the kick off. Newark, however, regained the lead when their centre Harding burst onto a loose ball, following a knock on straight from the kick off, and scored relatively unchallenged. This set back could have been a severe knock to Derby’s confidence but they were having none of it. The period up to half time was played out like a chess game with both sides testing each others defence and both sides defending ferociously. Derby knew who the Newark ball carriers were in the pack and the strike runners were in the backs. Each attack was met with crunching tackles that left the crowd gasping and wondering how long the intensity could be maintained.
Half time came with Newark having a well deserved 10-5 lead.
Derby set about the second half with confidence and a desire that was to prove fruitful with huge pressure being put on Newark. Derby began to dominate possession, showing off their full range of lineout moves with a mix of driving mauls at the front and quick ball off the top from the back. This gave the backs confidence to probe and push Newark around the park which eventually resulted in winger Kainne Barkham going over in the right corner. Full back Kristian Powell managed to thread a difficult conversion over from the touchline and against a strong wind for Derby to take a lead for the first time at 12-10.
The period of forward dominance continued and as a result of some excellent phase play the ball was spun out quickly to the left for centre Alfie Tipping to dive over wide on the left. Kristian Powell again showed what he was made of with a very fine conversion, which would ultimately be the difference. 19-10.
Derby were now looking to put the game to bed but were frustrated with continuing heroic defence from “the old enemy”. Powell, the Derby full back had a good shout for a try disallowed after running out of his own half, chipping ahead and apparently beating the Newark defender to the touch down. Unfortunately the touchdown wasn’t witnessed so no try was awarded.
With only 10 minutes to go and a 9 point lead the Derby lads looked as if they had managed to put last years loss in the final behind them. However, Newark were too proud and well drilled to let the title go without a fight. The pressure caused both sides to concede penalties in the final minutes and during a period of pressure in the Derby 22, the Newark prop Stimson managed to burst through and touch down in the left corner. Newark failed to convert. 19-15.
The last minutes were a nail biting affair with Newark pushing hard against a very well organised but tiring defence. After Newark conceeded a penalty Derby managed to relieve the pressure and push Newark back into their own half. After checking with the referee the final play was for Derby to win the lineout, kick the ball into touch and take the title in a thrilling match.
The final action was for a jubilant Derby captain Toby Green to be presented with the cup and celebrate with his teammates, while all the respective coaches retired to the bar to congratulate each other on an excellent game, and an epic rivalry over the last 4 years. A huge performance from both teams and a fitting finale to junior rugby with both teams a credit to their clubs.
Derby team: Kris Powell, Kainne Barkham, Alfie Tipping, Ben Dickinson, Will Town, Harry Finney, Parras Joshi, Rohan Weatherburn, Billy Willis, Joe Coupe, Tom Crick, Jack Vining, Toby Green (captain), Max Morley, Jim Hather.
Substitutes: Johnny Salloway, Greg Noble, Will Thompson, Jack Glenn, Ben Siddals, Aaron Slater
Match Report by Sean Hather
Pictured below are the Derby Under 16s team celebrating their win. Photographs from the game can be viewed at www.e4creative-photography.co.uk/galleries/gallery/30042017-derby-u16s-v-newark-u16s-nld-cup-final/