U15s - Combination Cup Final v Dings
Clifton under-15s rugby team bounced back from defeat in the county final to win the Bristol Combination Cup in a thrilling match.
Having lost 14-12 to Old Patesians in the Gloucestershire cup final played at Hartpury College on Sunday, Clifton triumphed 19-10 against local rivals Dings on Wednesday night.
This was a repeat of last year's final when Clifton lost a game they should really have won. The team had been fuming ever since and looking forward to getting their own back. The old adage that revenge is a dish best served cold was proven by the boys' reaction at the final whistle.
Whereas last year's final was a drab affair, played by the forwards in thick mud, this was a harum scarum game on 4G with both teams throwing the kitchen sink at the other. The ball went left, then right, first one team was on top, then the other, and just when it seemed a score was inevitable, someone would produce a fantastic piece of skill to turn the tide. Both teams deserve a huge amount of credit for a game which was a great advert for junior club rugby, and perhaps a lesson to those at Bristol Academy that junior rugby is about the many not the few.
Clifton continued their tradition of always starting badly in big games, and Dings soon built a 10-0 lead after capitalising on a defensive error to score a converted try which they later added to with a penalty.
With good conditions for running rugby, both sides were looking to attack through their backs which was appreciated by a sizeable, raucous and partisan crowd at the new Lockleaze rugby ground. Both teams may occasionally have strayed offside in midfield, which made life hard for the half-backs, but undeterred both sides continued to move the ball at every opportunity.
Clifton weathered the Dings storm and got themselves back into the game when a succession of forward drives created space out wide for centre Matt Jones to go over to leave the score 10-5 at half-time.
The end-to-end action continued in the second half with both sides creating opportunities.
Clifton back-rower and captain George Taylor made some outstanding breaks to help his side gain ground and eventually prop Ryley Staynings powered over to level the scores.
Full-back Elliot Smith then kicked a tricky conversion to give Clifton a 12-10 lead.
After absorbing more Dings pressure Clifton wrestled control in the dying minutes and sealed the victory with a try by winger Sam Costley again converted smartly by Smith.
It was a proud night for Castle School in Thornbury, which was attended by England players Billy and Mako Vinupola, with all three Clifton try scorers being pupils there.
After composing himself with a few ciders Clifton Head coach Nick Sproull said: "The boys should all be very proud of themselves. We defended heroically and got stronger as the game went on, scoring 19 unanswered points and outscoring them three tries to one. Everyone played their part, but it was the collective will to win and the desire not to let down their mates which got us over the line.”
We look forward to defending the cup next season