Cinderford Under 14s have qualified for the County Plate Final on 14th April following a qualifying campaign that has seen some high scoring rugby. Qualifying from a tough group in 3rd place following was well done particularly as their scheduled opening game at Chipping Sodbury was awarded to Cinderford as a “walkover” when the opposition couldn’t muster a side. This meant the new opener was a tough away encounter at Spartans, who have gone on to make the County Cup Final. This game brought a heavy 62-5 defeat, but credit to the lads who all fought to the end & their perseverance was rewarded with a try in the last minute.
The second tie was a home fixture versus another strong side, North Bristol. Playing “downhill” at the Bridge Cinderford took a lead into half time. However the margin wasn’t enough as in the second half North Bristol took full advantage of the slope finished strongly as Cinderford lost several key players to injury, eventually succumbing 40-26.
These two defeats meant that Cinderford played a “winner takes all game” for 3rd place against Old Richians, which was played mid-week under floodlights at Dockham Road. This was a first for the Under 14s, having never experienced floodlit rugby before & they rose to the occasion with a brilliant performance of running rugby. A 68-15 victory & qualification into the Plate quarter finals was just reward, finishing equal on points with North Bristol who grabbed the runners up spot courtesy of a better points tally.
The prize for coming 3rd in the group meant a home tie versus Thornbury, played at the Bridge. Playing down the slope in the first half the lads opened the scoring early with a converted try, only to be pegged back level when the visitors scored a converted try of their own. This however was a “blip” as by the end of the game Cinderford had gone on to add a further 39 points whilst conceding only a second half try to give a convincing & well deserved 46-12 victory to head into the semi-final.
Heavy snow resulted in having to relocate the fixture to Lydney in order to meet the scheduled date, many thanks to Lydney RFC for its assistance. However unfortunately the semi-final opponents Longlevens were unable to raise a team of sufficient numbers & had to withdraw from the competition on the morning of the fixture leaving the way clear for Cinderford to progress into the final.
Under 14s Head Coach Andy Rosser, who is stepping down at the end of the season after 8 years in charge, says “Although there have been some brilliant individual scoring feats it is unfair to pick out individuals as rugby truly is a team game & some of the unsung boys deserve this achievement as much as any other player. Getting this far has meant a significant input from every squad member. I just hope the lads go on now & do themselves justice in the final versus Cheltenham. Despite strong opponents we are more than capable of returning back to the Forest as Plate holders”.
The full squad who have made it through & will line up for the final will be: Jack Guy (Captain), Will Baldwin, Aaron Barnett, Louis Brennan, Ethan Brookes, Matt Cook, Cam Davis, Conor Gresty, Josh Haddock, Benzo James, Ryan Kibble, Luke Marrott, Ollie Moore, Morgan Peates, Finlay Poultney, Toby Powell, Jack Robins, Niall Rosser, Jacob Smith, Joe Smyth, Aaron Thomas & Danny Troughton.