Opponents: Loretto 7s Tournament
Date: Sunday, 29th September
Venue: Loretto, Pinkie
The Annual Loretto 7s tournament took place on Sunday and though there were fewer teams participating than usual, it was still an exciting morning of 7s rugby.
The initial stages of the tournament were run as a round robin, with the top ranked team at the end of that playing number four and second ranked team playing number three. The Belhaven U11s have an impressive history of success in this competition, having won it four times in the past five years so the pressure was on to maintain the high standard.
1st Match v Cargilfield
There was certainly no time to ease into the morning as our first match of the day was against Cargilfield. Right from the start, it was clear that this was going to be a tough match with the Cargi boys playing with real determination, especially at the rucks, where they were quite ferocious. Belhaven went an early try up when James scored but then began throwing the ball away, rather than looking after it and in 7s, possession is key. Cargi took advantage of our sloppiness, pounced on the loose ball time and again and built some pressure which eventually lead to an equalizer.
A chat about protecting the ball at half time was heeded and allowed James to score his second to put Belhaven back in the lead. Cargi refused to yield, leading to the second half becoming a fierce affair and in the final play of the match, they went over in the corner to equalize again.
2nd Match v Loretto
Next up was Loretto and their fairly inexperienced team was no match for the speed and aggression of the Belhaven boys who ended up running in ten tries without conceding any in a very clinical performance.
3rd Match v St. Mary's
The fourth team at the tournament was St. Mary’s who, we suspected, would be a good outfit and this proved to be the case as they went two tries up in the first half. At this point, the boys could have panicked or could have let their heads drop, but they didn’t, much to their credit. Instead, they dug deep, kept calm heads and started moving the ball around. Some big tackles from Pedro, James and George along with some great work at the breakdown by Hugo and Josh won us some turnovers allowed us to start to get the upper hand. Before the half was complete, we’d tied the scores.
In the second half our dominance continued and four more tries were scored by Belhaven, the third of which was one of the best U11 tries I have ever seen. Starting from deep in our own half, the ball was turned over by Hugo (I think), given to Pedro who made some good yards before giving it back to Hugo, then it was passed through the hands with James and then George, looping round to hit it at full pace on the wing; when he was stopped, it again went through the hands with Saul offloading well, Josh running a great line and, finally, James looping onto the opposite wing to create an overlap and score. Phenomenal stuff.
Semi Final Match v Loretto
Try difference meant we ended top of the teams and saw us play Loretto in the semi. They certainly upped their game and some complacency on our part meant we were slow to get going. With the score one all at half time, the boys woke up and ran in three good tries to qualify for the final where we met … Cargilfield.
The Final v Cargilfield
This game proved to be an absolute humdinger of a match and a real advert for just how good (and fierce!) U11 rugby can be. Over my time at Belhaven, I have seen some brutal U11 matches and this ranks right up there with the very best.
The first half was fiercely (and I don’t use the word lightly here) contested, with Cargi, once again, targeting the rucks with real aggression. Both teams also put in some big, hard tackles and refused to give ground. As it was, Belhaven managed to cross the line twice when James found some space out wide to go into the break two tries up.
But if we thought the first half was fierce, it only got fiercer! Cargi began with the tap and sent their biggest fellow on a charging run. Our defensive line switched off for just a moment but it was enough – they took the opportunity and their early try gave them renewed vigour. The next 4 minutes were brutal. Both teams tackled with real aggression and, whenever the ball went to ground, the rucking and clear-outs were savage with boys flying in at full speed and smashing their opponents out the back. Cargi eventually crossed the line to draw level and the tension ratcheted up another notch as, for a few minutes, the teams stood toe-to-toe and slugged it out with neither giving any quarter. Any number of boys took big knocks and there wasn’t a boy on the pitch who wasn’t hurting, but they fought through the tears and refused to give in. And in the final play of the match, Belhaven found themselves in possession and made the most of it, running through the phases and then, when defenders had been drawn in, swinging it wide to James who broke through in the wide channel and, hotly pursued by the raging Cargi pack, hurtled towards, and over, the line to win it.
Stats and Comments
And so the match and tournament ended with the same score-line and opponents in the final as last year. But (apart from for the spectators) there was no immediate joy or jubilation – the boys were too exhausted for that. In fact, of the 14 boys on the pitch, ten were in tears and looking at their faces, you could not tell who were the victors. Like prize fighters, having battled each other to exhaustion they stood staring at each other, a little wary, begrudgingly respectful, hurting a lot and totally spent. Awesome!
Belhaven 2 - 2 Cargilfield
Belhaven 10 - 0 Loretto
Belhaven 6 - 2 St. Mary’s
Belhaven 4 - 1 Loretto
Belhaven 3 - 2 Cargilfield
Well done, boys, that was an impressive performance and you can hold your heads high having continued the run of success at this tournament, now making it five out of six. And guess what? We play Cargilfield at home on Wednesday!
MOTM: A brilliant team effort but I think that today, for his all-round contribution, it’s James.