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We did it again ! Semi Final Surrey 54 v Durham 12

Surrey U20’s have reached the County Shield Final for consecutive years after beating Durham in a very exciting Semi-Final game at Esher RFC.

The run up to the match was particularly tense this year as players cried off during the week with a variety of injuries from Concussion to separated Nasal cartilages and potential holidays abroad with parents.

Suffice to say that a few sleepless nights were had, wondering how many would be fit to play on the Sunday.

Last year we played Durham in a very tense final and with the added travelling this year,we expected them to be fully motivated for the game and charge out of the gates looking for revenge

The players arrived at Esher and our confidence grew there were no additions to the injury list and those that had arrive, hadn’t as previously some had done, play on the Saturday before. So they were all fit and raring to go in the pursuit of their aim. To win the completion and retain their title.

Our usual morning session went well, we were all clear on the game plan and the elements that we need to work to be successful.

Naming the team is always a hard thing to do as there are players that are asked to turn up on the day with expectations of playing but I then have to disappoint. Only 22no players are to be named in the starting team but we always have 28- 30no that turn up, as we need the extra players to assist with training. Selection is always based on those that are seen as the best players on the day so it can also be that a player already in the shirt may be dropped because another is working harder. So the commitment from the players that arrive at 9.30am on a Sunday morning is to be hugely applauded.

The main success of this age group is that the TEAM is more important that the individual and that we need to succeed as a group to be successful as a player.

Most of those who missed out this weekend are the younger of the players and will certainly be available for selection next year and I have taken this opportunity to name them and thank them. Glenn Tomlinson, Max Obrien, Max Christie, Jamie Beighton.

Watching Durham get off the coach and start to warm up I could see that the big backs they had would give our make shift back line a hard afternoon. Particularly for one of our stand-in players who have never played in the position he was required to before.

However our players were focussed and raring to go themselves, Mat MacPherson this year’s Captain was back and leading the team from the front.

Fifteen minutes to go!

That time where you see coaches patrolling the side lines knowing that the next 80minutes or so are in the hands of the players and therefore nothing more they could do.

Kick Off

As usual the first five minutes were a very tense affair with both sides making some good in roads in to the opposition, all the big guys hitting in to each other to try and make a mark.

Then Surrey got in to their stride and quickly reeled off three converted tries.

All of the coaches could breathe out now, we were in control.

While the first of the tries was a slightly nervous affair, the latter two were well worked and worthy of the applause they received. Players were attacking space with support on their shoulder and if tackled released quick ball to allow the team to keep going through the game plan.

Durham scored a try and started us worrying whether they were going through a revival like they did in last year’s final.

A penalty and a further unconverted try in the closing minutes allowed us to turn around in the lead 28-7

After half time and only a couple of changes in the team we were able to immediately score taking the total to 33-7.

The game for a period of time in the next 30mins or so was a stop start affair with two players being sent to the sin bin, for a heated disagreement over something or other. This in conjunction with a concussion to our tight head prop and a back injury to our back up prop meant the remainder of the match would be played with uncontested scrums. Never a satisfactory choice but a fact of life.

Both sides were eager to raise themselves Durham to fight back and Surrey to finish the job and a couple of tries from Surrey and a final try from Durham meant the game finished with a score line of 54-12 sending Surrey through to their second consecutive final and a chance to defend their title.

It was an exciting game and I believe the Surrey committee representatives and the supporters that joined us for the sunny afternoon thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We now play the Final away at Coventry against Staffordshire, who beat Hampshire in the other semi- final and who in turn did beat us in an earlier round, our only Hiccup in this year’s competition.

As this was our last time playing at Esher this season I would like to thank them for the use of their facilities and for the Ladies in the Kitchen that make us Hot tea and feed the players.

Thank You!!

Over the past couple of years playing at Esher for each of our Home fixtures has allowed us to truly make the place a successful venue for Surrey U20’s.

Coaches

Bob Dickinson Gareth Rise

Jonathan Griffin Chris Sewell

Mike Birmingham Sophie Capito Physio

David Page Team manager

Players

Nathanial Opedo 12. Dan Patton
Joe Radford 13. Oliver Douche
Zack Taylor 14. James Hanson
Matt Perks 15. Mikey Macdonald
Matt Macpherson 16. Jack Robinson
George Mathews 17. Joe Ferguson
Ryan Travers ( Captain ) 18. Harry Blackmore
Alex Corner 19. Tom Doneggan
Ben Bowen 20.Mac Duabie
Alex Seers 21.Tom Hothersall
Josh Christie 22. Ayomi Obanubi