Market Rasen U16s 19 - 7 Sleaford U16s
Just occasionally a defeat feels like a victory and so it was as Sleaford U16s put in an epic demonstration of guts and determination to go down fighting against a massive Market Rasen team packed full of NLD representative players.
After 24 hours of heavy rain, Sleaford arrived at the away venue to be squeezed onto a makeshift pitch as two of the main pitches were waterlogged. But it wasn’t just the molehills, gently rolling landscape, and trees growing on the pitch that the team were up against, but a team of behemoths - one even had a full grown beard.
Sleaford won the toss and elected to go downhill in the first half (yes it really was that much of a slope) and went two tries down in the early stages due to lack of focus and some interesting referee decisions.
But a growing sense of injustice sparked Sleaford into life and it was game on. Despite giving up well over a stone a man in weight, Sleaford began to play with a spirit and passion that was wonderful to behold and some of their hits made Samoa look like a bunch of softies.
Sleaford gave everything they had in the first half to keep the score down to 12-0 at half time, but you couldn’t help thinking that the away team would run out of steam in the second half as a result of their exertions in the first 40 mins. They would have to dig deep; and that’s exactly what they did, clearly getting under the skin of the Market Rasen giants and forcing numerous errors and turn-overs by the home side. As a result the second half remained scoreless until the last 10 minutes when Market Rasen were camped inside the Sleaford 22m line and looked to be pushing for a final score. But Sleaford stood strong and yet another turn-over saw George Cowell pick up a loose ball and sprint the full length of the pitch to score under the posts.
A fitting end to an immense Sleaford performance that saw them win the second half 7-0 and ultimately lose the match by a respectable 19-7.
While there were 17 heroes out there who all deserved the man of the match, an inspired Sam Jewers playing open side flanker played his heart out and neutralised not only a very talented Market Rasen scrum half but also an opposition back row whose sheer size wouldn’t have put them out of place in the All Blacks. Not the prettiest game of rugby, but totally absorbing and an example of what sheer determination can achieve.