The rugby season began with the usual excitement with all of the Arnold boys taking on Birkenhead School in some very exciting matches.
It was the U14s and U15s who really impressed with two excellent wins. After drawing 5-5 in last year's match, the Arnold U14 team won by 29-7. Ellis Whorlton-Jones scored a quite superb hat-trick, which included one breath-taking individual try where he gathered his own chip and chase to score. Sam Royle was also on the score sheet and his centre partner, Tom Riley, made it five tries for the U14s as he broke clear from the half way line after some great work from Royle. Scrum-half, Matthew Barrett, had an outstanding match and the U14 forwards played extremely well throughout.
The U15s started the season in quite amazing form. After losing to the same opposition by 36-12 as U14s this was always going to be a tough task and this was evident from the very beginning as Birkenhead made a 50 yard break right from the kick-off. Luckily, excellent tackling from Sean Jagger saved the day. However, for the next 20 minutes it was Arnold who dominated, especially in the rucks, which allowed Alex Vowles-Bradley and Tyne Davis to control the match from half back. Some intelligent kicks and fast distribution had Arnold going forwards and only a foot in touch from Oliver Greenwood-Taziker stopped the Arnold boys taking the lead.
Tom Forster soon had Arnold ahead as he rounded two men down the left hand side to score a fine try. This was doubled minutes later as a brilliant kick by Vowles-Bradley and chase by Simran Singh and Elliott Fackey saw the Birkenhead fullback caught in possession. The ball spilled out and Andrew Perry's excellent work-rate was rewarded with a try and a 10-0 half time lead. The good work in the second half continued as Jordan Makepeace, Oscar Howarth and Daniel Taziker all played superbly with Will Nickson leading from the front. A poor kick from Birkenhead was fielded 35 metres out by Vowles-Bradley and he danced through 6 or 7 tackles to score a brilliant solo score, which was perfect reward for his impressive display.
15-0 soon became 22-0 as a nice flat miss pass sent Fackey through the middle for a try under the posts. Birkenhead hit back with a good try in the last few minutes as the U15s won by 22-7. Matthew Garrod was impressive throughout, especially in the lineout, and Matthew Tighe, Sunil Hutchinson and Jacob Ingham-Gore scrummaged quite superbly all afternoon. However, man of the match had to be Sean Jagger for a quite amazing display at full back.
The 1st XV lost 17-7. They were 7-0 down after just one minute after a mix up at the kick-off but they responded extremely well and it was James Kidner who made the break-through after excellent work by the backrow saw the backs send the ball down the line to make it 7-7 at half-time. Richard Whiteside and Sam Crowther combined well at half back but a Birkenhead penalty put the Liverpool side 10-7 ahead. Sadly, an unfortunate charge down sealed the win for Birkenhead as they collected the ball to score and claim the win.
In the 2nd XV match, tries at key times proved the Spartans undoing as a try right at the start of the first half, followed by one at the start of the second half and then one at the end of the match in the last minute, secured a 24-10 victory for the travelling Birkenhead boys.
Tom Hammond, who was brilliant throughout, scored the Arnold try and fly-half, Harry Kenworthy, struck the conversion and a penalty. The young year 11 boys in the Spartans, of which there were many, all played extremely well and as they get used to senior rugby they will continue to grow and excel. The 1st XV and 2nd XV take on Bolton School at home on Wednesday.
The U13s lost 50-0 against a very strong Birkenhead side but there were many positives with Jan Engelbart, Mark Brickbank, Callum Preece and Joe Smith all working hard and making some fine tackles. Miles Child was outstanding throughout.