Maidenhead RFC Colts 45- 21 Tynedale RFC Colts 21
Maidenhead RFC Colts capped an extraordinary season on Saturday 19th May 2018 by comprehensively winning the National Under 18s Cup after scoring seven tries to beat Tynedale RFC Colts in the final at Worcester’s Sixways Stadium.
Maidenhead dominated proceedings and led 19-7 at half-time following tries from Jack Belcher, James Ford and Eliot Frisby, plus two conversions from Kieran Grey.
Tynedale scored their try on the stroke of half-time.
The second half saw Maidenhead grab their fourth try after seven minutes when Frisby fed Josh Odeniyi, who showed power and poise to brush off several tacklers to finish, Grey adding the conversion for 26-7.
The teams then traded tries as Tynedale scored to make it 26-14 and then Maids made it 33-14 after prop Elio Mandozzi dotted down and Grey converted.
Tynedale hit back with another try to stay in the match at 33-21, but this was it was to get for the Northumberland side.
With seven minutes to go Maidenhead landed a further blow as Belcher made a powerful surge before the ball was moved wide and great handling saw wing Ollie Hill score in the corner with Grey converting a challenging kick for 40-21.
Maidenhead then sealed the win with another piece of brilliance as centre Dan Collins picked up the ball inside his own half before skipping past four players and diving over the try-line in the final play of the game to leave Maids 45-21 winners.
The triumph comes just a little more than two months after the club were rocked by the sudden death of director of rugby and Colts coach Tony Brooks.
An emotional Colts head coach Gareth Andrews-Jones dedicated the victory to the club legend.
“Tony would have been absolutely delighted with that,” he said.
“I could not be prouder of the boys.”
Maidenhead RFC Colts:James Ford; Josh Odeniyi, Elliott Thorne, Dan Collins, Ollie Hills; Eliot Frisby, Kieran Grey; Elio Mandozzi, James Johnstone (capt), Callum Dugmore, Phil Wells, Jack Belcher, Teo Gaster, Joe Thompson, Todd Muil. Matt Hine, Will Manning, Chris Allen, Sam Riches, Drew Prince, Josh Henderson, Louis Monk.
Click here for the post-match celebrations.
Click here for Will Greenwood's tribute on TV.
A journey that began in October 2017 culminated in the final at Worcester’s Sixways Stadium as Tynedale and Maidenhead fought to become the inaugural winners of the National U18s Cup.
Over 300 miles separate the two teams and both have had some tense moments en-route to Saturday's match.
For Tynedale, led by a coaching team of Stan Blackburn, Richard Cramb, Graeme Clarkson and Fergus Mitchell, reaching the final caps off an impressive season in both the cup and league.
“I think our biggest positive this season has been our strength in depth,” says Blackburn.
“We have had guys in the team who have come up all the way from when they were six and so to finish this stage of their rugby journeys in a national final is very special.”
Captained by fly half Cameron Grant, the team have been forced to dig deep on several occasions with a 33-32 win over Old Northamptonians in April one of the standout fixtures of the competition.
“We won that match with the last kick of the game and I think that shows the attitude of this team,” says Blackburn.
“Some of our players will no doubt go on to achieve great things in the game but I think the most important thing is just making sure that they all enjoy their rugby and continue to play the sport and that has always been our focus.”
For Maidenhead, today’s final is significant in more ways than one. The club were rocked by the death this year of their much-loved Director of Rugby and Colts Coach Tony Brooks.
Brooks had been a key figure in the development of the Colts team and for the U18s to reach today’s final is a fitting tribute to a coach who had been a mentor and father figure to many of them.
The last time a Maidenhead Colts team reached the latter stages of the National Cup the side featured the likes of future England stars James Haskell and Paul-Doran Jones and the 2017/18 squad is now hoping to write their own names in club history.
They have lost just one game this season, topping their league, and beating some tough sides on their way to the final, including previously unbeaten Horsham in the semi-finals.
Captained by hooker James Johnstone, Maidenhead have threats across the pitch and were supported by a large group of family, friends and club members all eager to witness this side finish what has been a remarkable journey.
Updated 24th May 2018