U-18 Grand Final –

Grand Final week bought some highs and lows for the Valley’s boys. Our preparation wasn’t good at the beginning of the week with three players suspended and worse still, that they were three of our senior players. This was going to encourage some of the younger players to really stand up if we were ever going to get over the line. After a big build-up, the very excited group took the field and unfortunately got off to a shaky start. We let in an early try and let the occasion get the better of us. We found our rhythm shortly after, and on the back of a break by David Murphy, and a great kick by Josh Hancock the scores were levelled. Hancock followed this up with a break of his own leading to a crash over try by Ethan Philp. Some good ball movement and nice line running started to hurt Brothers, but to their credit they scrambled well. After a 40 / 20 kick from Josh Hancock, Jack Bishop crossed for the first of his two tries from a scrum move, however Brothers hit back quickly and we went to half-time leading 14 – 10. A poor attitude, an error and some poor defence let Brothers straight back in and let them in front in the first two minutes of the second half. It took the Sargent boys to combine in three hit-ups in a row which created a roll-on and allowed Mitch to dive over for a try, however poor goal kicking allowed the Brothers to keep touch with us as we only netted one from seven attempts. Brothers found some form and went the length of the field in one set and finished with a try, but we hit back and forced an error from kick off and continued to pressure the opposition with set after set, after set. After the disappointment of two disallowed tries, Bishop crashed over again for his second try. To go with Hugh Sedger’s great first half, Hayden Smith was a workhorse in the second with an impressive level of professionalism. With both teams putting in the hard slog, Hancock put Karaha Waaka over in the corner, but as was the case all day, Brothers were not to be outdone, and retrieved the ball from kick off and scored out wide. This took the score to 28-22 and this is where it stayed. The last five minutes had everyone on the edge of their seats but it was a great relief to come away with the Grand Final in the bag. With some big effort across the board, it was the massive game played by our 5 /8th Josh Hancock that stole the show. He took control of the game, kicked well and set up everything and was rightfully named ‘Man Of The Match’. A big thanks to those off the field – Brett, Jason and Stinger – who have put in a lot of time with the boys, it really was a team effort.            MATT BUDDEN



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