The rugby season kicked off in style at Arnold School with some entertaining matches against Birkenhead School. In Blackpool, the conditions were perfect, and it was the U15s who stole the show as they scored eight tries in a wonderful team display.
From the kick off, the Arnold forwards looked particularly up for the match and their dynamism at the ruck was providing plenty of ball for the new half back pairing of Richard Whiteside and Mitchell Bolus. Ben Cheston opened the scoring as good forward play, and some nice handling, gave Cheston some space and he raced in untouched from 25 yards. Minutes later Birkenhead attacked down the right but a good tackle by Max Reid saw the ball dropped and Lewis Dunsmore-Nield showed his pace as he collected the ball and sprinted for 70 metres to score under the posts. Bolus added the conversion to lead 12-0.
The excellent play continued as Chris Bottomley, captain Matthew Radley and Joe Welch were proving more than a handful in the loose. Bottomley, in particular, was having a fantastic match. From a ruck wide out on the left more quick ball was sent across the field as Ned Whittle drew his man superbly to release Cheston and his brilliant pass out of the tackle gave Nick Wright ample space to charge into the corner for another try. Bolus’s conversion from wide out was expertly struck for a 19-0 advantage.
Bolus then scored the try of the match immediately after as he received a ball from Whiteside in his own half. Four sidesteps and a jinking run later he had beaten four men and then displayed great pace as he raced 55 metres for a quite breathtaking score. Captain, Matthew Radley, added a fifth Arnold try as he showed his power from the base of the scrum to crash over. Birkenhead then dominated play for the remainder of the first half and they scored a very good try which their efforts deserved to complete the first half scoring as Arnold led by 31-5.
The good home play continued in the second half and it was Cheston who added to the scoring after Bolus sent him through a big gap in the defence. Excellent ruck ball was provided by Rajaan Hutchinson, Owen Burrows and Will Jepson. Ned Whittle side stepped through from close range for the seventh try and Cheston completed a very early season hat-trick as the U15s won by 48-5. Seven of the eight tries were scored by the backs but the forwards deserve special credit for the amount of possession they gave, with Andrew Cowburn, James Hart, Declan Humphries and Alex Thornley all performing well. Jonathan Hyde, Sam Walton and Jacob Grimshaw also contributed well and Max Reid’s tackling was outstanding at full back throughout the match.
In the other match at home, the U13s drew a very exciting match against a very strong Birkenhead side, 5-5. Captain, Ellis Whorlton-Jones, had an exceptional match and he scored the onlyArnold try. Rory Douglas, Tom Riley and Sam Royle contributed extremely well all match but it was the defences of both sides which deserve the most applause as late chances for both teams were thwarted by excellent tackling. Ben Pearson, Jack Wood and Matthew Barrett all made some telling contributions.
Away from home, the U14s found the going tough against some talented and aggressive opponents as they lost by 36-12. Will Nickson and Tom Forster both scored and played well but Birkenhead were ruthless and a few Arnold missed tackles were punished by the home side. Matthew Garrod, Tigne Davis and Alex Vowles-Bradley worked hard throughout.
Due to Birkenhead School's 150th Anniversary at the weekend, the 1st XV and 2nd XV matches will be played on aWednesday later this term.