Thursday saw the 5th U15 Arnold School 7s played out in near perfect, sunny conditions with ten sides from across the region competing for this keenly contested prize. Arnold, Kirkham GS, KEQMS and Lytham HS were the local schools taking part and they were joined by Giggleswick, QES Kirkby Lonsdale, Bolton School, Bury GS, West Hill HS and St Mary's College.
It was the hosts who opened the tournament on the main pitch against a very well-drilled Giggleswick side. Giggleswick got off to a great start and within five minutes they led 19-0 and it looked like the home side would struggle. However, a remarkable turnaround saw Louis Mottley grab a an important try back just before the break to make it 19-7. Arnold then dominated the proceedings in the second half and two further tries from Mottley and a gem from Nathan Thompson sealed a great 28-19 win with Andrew Walkden's conversions so very important.
Bolton were next for the Arnold boys and this time they made a more promising start to lead 14-0 at the break after tries by Andrew Walkden and Oliver McPheely. Walkden scored another in the second half and Richard Whiteside supported very well for the fourth to complete a 28-12 win.
QES Kirkby Lonsdale were beaten by 40-12 with seven different try scorers on the board. Joe Wilde raced over for two scores and the other tries were scored by Tom Hammond, Louis Mottley, Nathan Thompson, Andrew Walkden and Harrison Kenworthy. Arnold then won their final group match against Bury GS, scoring six tries to win their group and progress to the main semi-finals.
In the other group there were some keenly fought contests as an impressive Kirkham GS side led West Hill HS 19-0 but then lost by 21-19. West Hill would prove to be a talented team as the day progressed.
Lytham HS beat KEQMS by over forty points to win the battle of the Lytham schools and St Mary's Crosby came a good third in the group, playing some attractive 7s. Kirkham won the remainder of their matches quite easily to set up a semi-final showdown with Arnold. West Hill would play Giggleswick in the other semi-final, after Giggleswick had beaten Bolton School to take second place.
The plate semi-finals would be between Bolton v Lytham HS and QES Kirkby Lonsdale and St Mary's Crosby. Bury GS and KEQMS worked hard but came bottom in their groups.
West Hill were too quick and strong for Giggleswick as they made the main final but the other semi-final between Kirkham and Arnold was anything but straight forward as they slugged out a fantastic contest.
Kirkham looked impressive in the first four minutes as they dominated possession and were clinical in attack to lead 14-0. Arnold were making too many errors when they had the ball but a suddenly piece of skill and turn of speed from Louis Mottley saw Arnold's best player sprint in from sixty metres to make it 14-7.
Kirkham were then pressed back immediately from the kick-off and a massive tackle from Ahmed Ahmed saw a Kirkham player spill the ball and the impressive Oliver McPheely pounced to make it 14-12. The second half started well for Arnold and they strung some good passes together from one side of the field to the other to stretch the Kirkham defence. However, it was a fine kick and chase from Andrew Walkden from thirty metres out that put Arnold ahead for the first time at 17-14.
Richard Whiteside and Tom Hammond started to make some telling breaks but it was another kick and chase from Hammond that proved decisive. Tom chased his own kick and then won the resulting ruck to dive over for a 22-14 lead. This fourth try would prove vital as Kirkham scored a converted try off the very last play to make it 22-21 at the end in a pulsating match.
Sadly for Arnold, the final seemed to be one match too many as an extremely gifted, power, skillful and fast West Hill side easily won the final. Bolton beat QES Kirkby Lonsdale in the Plate Final to complete a very successful and entertaining day.
Our thanks to Andy Thompson, from SOS Kit Aid, and Arnold 6th former, Joe Matthews, who along with Mr Jones, officiated throughout the day.