Stockport 14s win Cheshire Cup
By Tony Kirkham
Stockport Reds retain the Cheshire Cup on a day to remember
Stockport Under 14's added the Cheshire Cup to the London Irish trophy by retaining the Cheshire Cup for the fourth consecutive time to cap an another fantastic season.
This years win was done the hard way with the 40 boys of the age group split equally in to mixed ability squads which we suspected might not be good enough to beat the top Cheshire sides but to give Cup rugby to all of the boys has been the cornerstone of the squads success and then to actually go on and win it was beyond our wildest dreams.
The Reds had to overcome the toughest of opponents in Chester who denied the boys an all Stockport final after defeating the Green squad in a nail biting semi final decided by a single try. Todays game was another nail biter which could have gone either way right up to the last minute.
The early part of the game saw Chester very much on top led as always by No 8 Josh McAndrew with things getting worse with an injury to hooker Fin Rode forcing him off the field and it came as no surprise that the first score of the day went to Chester who forced their way over from close range to put them into an early 5-0 lead.
Stockport, despite soaking up all the early pressure then had chances of their own only for a howling wind to deny fly half Jake Pennington as two penalty chances went agonisingly wide. With the half coming to a close Stockport built the phases only for Chester No Josh McAndrew to be sin binned for a tip tackle. With McAndrew off the field the Stockport pack took full advantage with a text book catch and drive from the line out that saw Miles Cooke force his way over in the corner after a great clear out from replacement hooker Conal Dooley.
With the scores locked at 5-5 it was still anyones game and despite early Stockport pressure they were unable to convert any of it into points until a superbly executed clearance kick from Jake Pennington was followed by wing Adam Pennington who streaked past his opposite number to touch down just inside the dead ball line. The ref awarded the try from 50 metres away however the touch judge finally ruled the ball had gone dead to put the game firmly back in the melting pot.
As the game entered the last 10 minutes Stockport were awarded a penalty that Jake Pennington stroked over with aplomb to finally put some daylight between the teams. More Stockport pressure brought a series of penalties with one finally within kicking distance that Jake Pennington again converted meaning Chester would need a converted try to win.
With the game entering the last few minutes Chester came back on the offensive only to be met by the Stockport back row of Deans, Sheridan & Cooke who felled anything that moved. After what seemed an age the final whistle went to see the pitch invaded by the entire Green Squad to scenes of wild celebration.
Well done to all the players, coaches and parents for what his been another incredible season. Commiserations to Chester who as always played their part in a another tantalising final.
Thank you to all the officials and to Wirral for hosting a superb finals day.