02 Dec 2015 in News
Saddleworth Under 14's secured the NWC Division 2 title with an away victory against third positioned team Wigan St. Cuthberts in the final game of the season.
Playing up hill against a strong wind, Rangers were always going to have a battle on their hands in the opening half, and it took a massive effort to keep the strong running Wigan pack at bay.
Stuart Dobson and Alex Gardener showed devastating strength and speed carrying the ball forward in a constant battle to play the game in their opposition's half, whilst Billy England and Will Mortimer shone brightly on defence repelling waves of attack from Cuthberts.
Unfortunately, just before half time, fatigue took its toll and defensive errors allowed Wigan in for a converted try, putting Rangers 6-0 behind.
Despite this, the outstanding efforts of Eddie Adams and Ben Manton should have been rewarded with points, given a little more luck and composure, but turning round just one score down at the break was a fair reflection of the half.
Saddleworth took the field for the second half confident on capitalising on their efforts and ready to take advantage of the conditions.
Jack Harrison-Brown and Andrew Shuttleworth were unstoppable, making massive yardage through the middle, allowing Dan Boulter and Ben Forster to show off some clever attacking skills and dominate the retreating defenders, whilst Tom Healy and Billy England linked up in the middle of the park expertly to keep Cuthberts guessing all the time.
With Rangers growing in confidence, and finally putting some training ground rugby onto the matchday stage, some brilliant passing movements saw Dan Dalzell take on the line and send in the rapid Matt Heginbotham out wide for their first try and close the gap at 6-4.
Some more dominant play quickly put Rangers back on the front foot as Tom O'Brien looked razor sharp on the wing and was only just denied on the line, allowing the powerful Joe Molden to force his way over from dummy half. Ben Forster added the extras for a 10-6 advantage and the floodgates appeared to have opened.
Tom Healy was next to go over under the sticks, rounding off a fabulous personal performance which saw him terrorise the Cuthberts’s defence, and was unfortunately on the wrong end of some decisions which would have put the game to bed, but with a 16-6 scoreline, the game seemed to be going only one way.
However, Wigan thought otherwise and a glut of penalties and errors ensured Saddleworth were in their own 20 metre area for long spells. Whilst Hayden Enziano tackled everything, and Dan South battled to get Rangers going again, St. Cuthberts scored out wide, making for a nerve-jangling finale with the score at 16-10.
Paul Brammer made a return to the team late on and showed up well with some strong tackling as Rangers scrambling defence held on, and Saddleworth eventually ran out deserved winners on the day, handing them the Championship shield.