Cooperative South West Grand Final 2012
Devon Sharks 36 North Devon Raiders 34
The venue at Bitton Park is ideally suited to the rigours of summer rugby league, the sun shining, the fresh smell of sea air, and the Sharks defending the South Devon ground that is in its catchment area as if it was its own from the invading Raiders from the North of the county. Sharks from just up the coast were determined not to lose this dual between the counties best two teams and it was with gusto that both sides put on a spectacle to excite even the most stringent union follower who happened to come and have a look at the summer sport that is taking a good foothold in the county.
From the off it looked as though the Sharks would walkover the minor premiers, after first Will Hodgson went over after continuous pressure on the Raiders line from a rampant Shark outfit that had been camped in the North’s twenty looking for the early score that would exert dominance over the Barnstaple based club. Captain Anthony Pinkerton added the extras 6-0. Straight from the restart Raiders stalwart, Will Topps, kicked deep into the Sharks half where Matt Crosscombe took the ball on his own line and went on a run up the right wing that would go the full length of the field to touch down for Sharks second try, which put Sharks in front with just seven minutes on the clock. At this point it could be forgiven if the Raiders thought they were going to be on the end of an hammering by the Great Whites, the Sharks supporters certainly thought so, but the Sharks coaching team know only too well how a Topps inspired Raiders will not lie down.
A trademark Topps short kick at the restart led to a period of sustained Raiders pressure. The nerves had started to take a grip on Sharks and it was evident by the number of missed tackles, and dropped ball, that were starting to creep into the Sharks game. Raiders started to believe in themselves, and their nerves started to drift away which resulted in Topps going over to the right of the posts. It was great effort because he took a huge hit from Paul Cartwright and Will Hodgson before somehow managing to get over the line, he converted his effort and it was 10-6 to Sharks. It took just four minutes for Raiders to get a levelling score with just fifteen on the clock it was 10-10 after captain Mike Sumner crashed over….. game on!
Sharks had to now start playing and on twenty seven minutes it was inspirational Russell Morris with a crash up into the Raiders endzone to put the team from the South of the county back in front, Pinkerton converted 16-10. Sam Thomas who was having the game of his life in Sharks colours made a superb break to put Sharks further in front 20-10 with seven minutes of the half left. Sharks should have shut up shop for the remainder of the half, but Will Topps refusing to lose two finals in a season shimmied his way through under the posts for a try he converted himself, leaving Sharks with a slender 20-16 lead going into the break.
The next try came from a superbly diffused bomb by Matt Crosscombe in his own tryzone. From the ensuing twenty metre restart Will Hodgson charged deep into Raiders territory before supplying Russell Morris with a deft flick which he took further towards the North’s line before sublimely passing to Sam Thomas to finish the move off with a stellar try, to leave Sharks 24-16 with forty two on the clock.
Raiders were next to score after a dubious knock on decision against the Sharks. From what appeared to be a clear knock on from the Raiders, Paul Cartwright scooped the ball up cleanly to take the ball away from the Sharks danger zone, only to be pulled back for a knock on. The sharks crowd went mad at this point, but alas the decision stood and from the ensuing scrum Nigel East crashed his way over and Raiders were right back in the game. Topps converted and on fifty seven minutes Sharks led 24-22.
Russell Morris working hard for Sharks was in no mood to let the game slip away, and on fifty two minutes he picked up and punished Raiders for a spilt ball on their own twenty metre line. He crashed his way over for a try that Ashley Ansermoz converted leaving Sharks 30-22 in front.
Raiders now threw everything at Sharks and with ten minutes to go they fought tooth and nail for a way back into the game. Sharks giving penalties away, time and again, were punished by the battling, when they went over on seventy one minutes, and once again Topps converted. Raiders were now within two points with nine left on the clock. The tension around Bitton Park was tense to say the least, both sides battling hard, even a passing train stopped so the passengers could watch the ferocious battle that was taking place at the famous old ground. It was the Barnstaple club that were now in the ascendancy, and it was Topps who once more showed his quality by sending his Raiders into the lead for the first time on seventy four minutes to send the travelling supporters into ecstasy, he converted his own effort and with just six minutes on the clock the north coast club were 30-34 in the lead.
Maybe it was the experience of the Sharks big game players that suddenly took control of the game, maybe the inexperienced young Raiders players thought they had done enough to win the silverware. Whatever happened it was a moment of sheer quality from Dylan Flashman that won the game, and the championship for the Sharks. From the base of the scrum Flashman picked up the ball and made his charge towards the Raiders line. There was little over two minutes on the clock and half a dozen defenders in his way, yet somehow he shrugged them off one by one, even two at a time before diving over the line to a raucous cheer from the Sharkies who were there to support their hero’s. The players mobbed the celebrating Flashman and it was left to Ashley Ansermoz to kick the winning points. With nerves of steel Smoz knocked over the conversion and Sharks regained the lead with just a couple of minutes left to go to the full time whistle.
Raiders still tried to come back hard, but close to the Sharks line they dropped the ball and it was the ever reliable Paul Cartwright who scooped it up and ran, to get as far away from his own line as possible. The whistle went and the jubilant Sharks celebrated winning the Championship for a second time!!!
Man of the match: Sam Thomas
Captain Anthony Pinkerton said “From where we started at the beginning of the season, I honestly can’t believe we made the final. Winning the Championship was not even on my agenda when I took over re-building this team. I had one goal at the start of the season, to survive. Today we beat a very good North Devon Raiders team, who just wouldn’t go away. Every time I thought we were getting away from them they threw another spanner in the works. I really thought we had blown it in that last ten minutes of the game. It must have been a great game to watch, the fans were superb and backed us from the first minute, to the last. I would like to thank Teignmouth RFC for their superb hospitality, what a great place to play rugby league in the summer, and I can’t end by not thanking every single person connected to Devon Sharks RLFC for the 110% effort they have put in to get us this far, the hardwork they have put in has been rewarded today, I am one very proud man, and it still hasn’t really sunk in yet”.
CEO Lee Kirkman added “I am proud to still be associated with Sharks, the last six years have been hardwork, but moments like this make it all worthwhile. I would like to thank Kiwi (Anthony Pinkerton) for putting this team together in such a short space of time. The experience he’s managed to convince to give league a go is immense, lads like Matt Crosscombe, Will Hodgson, Ash Ansermoz and Sam Thomas, joining the likes of Joe Bramley, Jon Woodhead, Paul Cartwright, Ollie Hill and Russell Morris. The quality we have here bodes well for the future, especially when you look at the youth we have coming through like Lewis Curtis, Mickey Rowlands and Alex Davey.
He continued “It’s not all about the players, we are a club here and every single member of this club is responsible for getting us here. Chairman Paul Field, Barry and Malcolm Whittle for their tireless efforts to promote the club. Johann Fahey our Physio for keeping our players on the field. I cannot go on without mentioning Mark Hamilton at 100% Health, who continues to support the club. He said to me in 2009 that he is associated with success, well we have won two championships and a South West Cup in his time with us, and to that end I thank him and all at 100% Health for their association with the club. Long may it continue!!!
South West Grand Final
No replies to this topic
0 utilisateur(s) en train de lire ce sujet
0 membre(s), 0 invité(s), 0 utilisateur(s) anonyme(s)