OPGS Under 14’s Win the school’s first ever County Rugby Trophy!

Kent Schools Rugby Football Union Under 14 Shield Competition as is customary, the Under 14 rugby squad are always set the task of reaching the semi-final of the Kent Schools Shield competition, however this season Mr Keeling-Jones had a quiet confidence that the team would reach the final! We were a strong squad of players, all of whom have worked hard to develop our rugby over the past couple of seasons. This, coupled with the number of club players, meant confidence was high from the start of the season, especially as we defeated Gravesend Grammar convincingly in the first game of the year!

Our route to the final:
Barton Court was the first team to play, an unknown opposition as we had never played them before. Whilst it was not the best team performance, we were able to defeat them 34-7.

We moved onto Harris Academy, Beckenham. Again they were an unknown, but with our knowledge of the area the school was situated in, it had a number of rugby clubs close by, and their convincing win over Tunbridge Wells GS meant they were not going to be a push over!

It turned out to be a tight match. We took the lead with a superb individual try, but Harris quickly came back into the match with their strong runners and our failure to complete the required tackles. The match was poised at 12-12 at half time! Heads were down until halftime when we had a motivational speech by Mr Keeling Jones! The boys went back onto the field pumped for the next half; it was stalemate for much of the half, physical battles, tackles being completed, until close to full time we put together some phases of play, put Harris under pressure and eventually broke their defence, scoring a converted try! All we had to do was hold on to the 19-12 ;lead and we would be through to the semi-finals! Thankfully we did!

The semi-final was another away fixture, this time down at Dover Grammar, a well known opposition, but one we knew we could beat, but also knew could beat us! Therefore, we knew that we would have to perform well in this game if we stood a chance of achieving our first final!

A quick warm up and we were ready, confidence was high! We didn’t want to go back to Maidstone losing! Within the first few minutes of the game, Mr Keeling-Jones was giving the orders from the sideline, our structure was finally as he wanted! We put together some great phases of play which ended with Bradley Martin crashing over for our first try! What a start! And what followed was probably one of the best team performances we had put together since beginning at the school. We continued to hold our lines, maintained structure and put together phase after phase of play. The first half ended with a 22 point lead, but more importantly, our defence had not been broken!

Out we went for the second half knowing the match was within our grasp, a couple more tries and we knew that the comeback would not happen! Thankfully we continued to play as a team, individuals stepped up and performed to their best!

We ended the match 39-12 winners and elated to reach our first final, knowing one more performance would bring home the trophy!

The big day was here!

School had finished, the team were on their way to meet at Gravesend Rugby Club. We were the first to arrive, so chose our changing room and began to get focussed for the match! Mr Keeling-Jones came in to give us some instructions and as soon as all the boys were ready we headed out to warm up, Steve Ireland working with the forwards and Mr Keeling-Jones the backs.

After refs briefing and the toss both teams wished each other luck!

Heading back into the changing rooms to get our playing shirts on it was time for a final few words from Mr Keeling Jones. Mr Keeling-Jones left the last words to the captains for the day, Matt Hill and Connor Ireland, before heading out to the pitch for kick off!

As we jogged out to the pitch there was applauses and cheers; we set up as they were taking the kick.

Kick off was taken and very quickly OPGS were pushing Norton Knatchbull back. This then helped us to score the first try of the game, some great forwards play and linking passing led to Matt Hill opening the scoring; unfortunately Josh Fiksen was unable to convert. Mr Keeling-Jones, whilst congratulating the try, was not impressed that we had lost our first ruck of the game, telling us to get over the ball quicker!

We received the ball from the kick off, a ruck formed and again Norton Knatchbull turned us over, a clear tactic they were going to use to try to put pressure on us. Pressure was certainly the word and very quickly they scored their own try! We knew we could not afford to be turned over again!

We kicked off, trying to catch Norton Knatchbull unaware. Some of our players chased it down and were able to pressure the opposition into a mistake! Now what could we do with possession? The team were putting together some great phases of play, Callum Duffy clearing rucks superbly, Ryan Young carrying as effectively as we had seen all season! Unfortunately, we were not quite able to break Norton’s defence!

Further into the game we got a penalty and Mac leason put the ball right on their try line. The lineout was taken and a maul set up. We were set up well and pushed them back allowing Bradley Martin the opportunity to break off and slide over the try line; a well set up try. Back at the kick off Norton chipped it to the right side of the pitch where Mac Leason was standing, he caught it and sprinted down the touchline managing to avoid four tacklers and scored another superb try. Confidence was now high, the team were playing superbly and no player had failed to complete what was expected of them!

Back again at the kick off, Bradley Martin scored another fantastic try, it was now down to Josh Fikson at the conversion. He took the kick and it went through the posts. The whistle went for halftime and we were 22-5 up. Knowing the scoreline at Dover, we were confident we could finish this game off!

Whilst we felt exhausted; this was our chance to get some water on board and for Mr Keeling Jones to change up the teams a bit. Soon we were back on the pitch and we were all ready for the next half. We had soon pushed them back again and were right on their try line, we shifted the ball down the line until it got to Matt Hill who burst through their defence, over the line. It was now Josh’s turn again, he composed himself and gets another two points for our team.

Norton Knatchbull then took to the lineout, catch and drive tactic! One we were not sure how to stop and they pushed us over for a well-earned try. It was getting close to the end of the match but then Callum Duffy got hold of the ball and raced down the pitch for the final try of the game, meaning we had done it! We had won – 34-10

This is the first County Rugby Trophy that Oakwood Park have ever won! What an achievement for these boys and one that we hope to build on next season in the Rugby Trophy competition! How will we play against the likes of Judd, Skinners etc!

Well-done to all the boys who participated in the match:

Matt Hill, Conner Ireland, Mac Leason, Bradley Martin, Callum Duffy, Ryan Young, Josh Fikson, Isaac Frais, Will Izzard, Dan Odling, Rob Roe, Tom Burnet, Jamie Flintan, Joe Flintan, Elliott Banham, Romish Magar, Timo Collins, Luc Burt, Unick Purja, Joe Hussey, Hugh Lloyd, James Cripps, Daniel Griffiths, Daniel Pickering and Joshua Saunders