Arnold took on St Mary's, Crosby in the U14 Lancashire Plate.
Captain for the day, Alex Vowles-Bradley, used the wind to good effect in the first half to set up good field position, and following good pressure by the back row of Matthew Garrod, Jordan Makepeace and Andrew Perry, Tyne Davis was able to convert a penalty from in front of the posts for a 3-0 lead.
From the restart, an excellent tackle by Alex Atherton again put the home side under pressure, and with the forwards gaining in confidence from the initial exchanges, Arnold began to dominate the contact area. Indeed, following a good drive from the base of the scrum by Garrod, the pack presented excellent quick ball for the backs to carve open the defence, as Ellis Whorlton-Jones raced over from 20metres to round off an excellent team try; Davis extended the lead to 10-0 with a well taken conversion.
Intelligent play by the backs again ensured that territorial advantage was maintained and the lead was extended further in a near repeat performance. Whorlton-Jones and Tom Forster had linked well in mid field to create space for Tom Riley and Sean Jagger out wide; excellent rucking by the pack again providing the opportunity for fly-half Vowles-Bradley to finish off a good period of play with a well deserved score. With the conversion missed, Arnold led 17-0 midway through the half.
Unfortunately the pack were unable to keep up the same momentum as at the start of the game, and a number of the home side three quarters began to cut holes in the Arnold defence. On the stroke of half-time, St Mary's fought their way back into the game with a well taken score, to close the gap to 17-5 at half-time.
The second-half became a rather tense affair, with St Mary's making effective use of the elements as well having a number of strong runners creating uncertainty in the Arnold defence. Strong tackling by Simran Singh and some last ditch defending by Whorlton-Jones, Vowles-Bradley and Perry prevented Arnold conceding early on, but eventually the pressure told as the home side narrowed the margin to 17-12.
Arnold, however, regained their composure and continued to make good use of the possession they had. Replacement Sam Royle made good headway in mid field, as did Perry and Garrod, and were well supported by Ben Pritchard, Matthew Tighe and Bill Gavin in the loose. Following a concerted period of pressure, with consecutive 5 metre scrums, Tyne Davis fed a neat pass to winger Rory Douglas down the blind side who cut a superb angle to dive under the tackles and get the all important score. A difficult conversion attempt narrowly shaved the upright but with just a matter of minutes remaining, Arnold were able to hold on to win 22-12.
This was a good all round squad performance, in which all the replacements had a big part to play and made a good impact. A home tie against Manchester Grammar School is the reward in the next round.
On the same afternoon and after some impressive performances for the school team and in the recent Lancashire trials, two of Arnold's outstanding U14s, Will Nickson and Elliot Fackey, played their part in Lancashire's recent warm-up match.
Elliot, playing on the wing, enjoyed an early 30 metre run and Will displayed his worth in the front row by taking a number of balls against the head at hooker. Elliot was unlucky not to score in the first half after a try scoring pass was judged forward but forward dominance saw Lancashire four tries up at the break.
Lancashire went on to win the match with ease with the Arnold boys performing extremely well and giving themselves every chance of selection for the matches against West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire in late February and early March.
We wish them well for the remainder of the campaign.