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Home > News > Letchworth Under 15 win County Cup
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Your News Letchworth Under 15 win County Cup
21
APR

Letchworth 6 Old Albanians 5

A superb effort full of dogged determination has produced a thrilling climax to the season for our Under 15 team, who have defeated Old Albanians in the final of the County Cup.

Having despatched Harpenden and Bishop's Stortford in earlier rounds, talk around the County was that this would be a game too far against OAs, runners up in the League and the cup holders from last season. Factor in their home advantage and the fact that Letchworth received a hiding in the League fixture earlier this year, and the smart money would surely been on Old Albanians. Wouldn’t it?

Letchworth, in typical fashion, have learnt to pay little heed to reputation and produced a magnificent performance to upset the odds. In front of a vociferous Garden City support, a nervy start saw OAs stake their territory in the opposition 22 early on, but their normally poised backs looked rattled when they went wide, losing shape and sometimes the ball itself when confronted with a tenacious blitz defence.

Despite an impressive rolling maul on display from the Albanians pack - making ground on several occasions - Letchworth fought for scraps and forced a penalty around 25m out, which Alfie Burkett duly despatched : 3-0. The pattern of the game was then changed for a ten-minute spell, when the referee broke up some handbags as Rob Booth streaked away down the left flank. Looking to make his mark on a potentially explosive encounter, the official ordered Liam Fitts and Alex Littlewood off the field for a cooling-off, accompanied by an an OAs forward.

With two key forwards off the paddock, things could have got messy for Letchworth, but the home team could not take up the advantage. A passage of broken play followed shortly after the dust-up, with the Albanian winger taking the ball at pace down the left-hand side and looking set to score from 25m out – only a last ditch ankle-tap from Burkett saved the day. At this stage, OAs were enjoying plenty of possession, but at half-time the score remained at a shaky-looking 3-0 to Letchworth.

Following the break, and with both sides restored to a full roster, it was OAs who began to impose themselves. With their pack making in-roads, and their outside-half kicking intelligently out of hand, they forced their way down to the far right hand side of the field. Recyling the ball well, they forced a score in the corner, and despite missing the conversion, they had secured that all-important lead and looked set to compound the advantage.

But this Letchworth side, reduced in numbers to a squad size of only 19 over the course of the season, were in no mood to cave in. With Tom Jubb consistently taking his ball at the front of the lineout, and centres Jack Anthony and Rob Booth always seeking to break the gain-line, they scrapped for possession, working hard to retain their own ball and always looking to disrupt any secured by the opposition ; and with the OAs backline unable to fire as they would probably expected to against the Black and Ambers, Letchworth got their their reward with a penalty from around 30m just left of the posts with less than 10 minutes left on the clock. Burkett, with his deceptively lazy style, slotted the kick to take the lead to a huge roar from the travelling support packing the balcony.

Both teams had now contrived to set up a thrilling finish, and it was OAs who had the chance to close the game out. Indiscipline from the Letchworth pack gifted a penalty to the opposition from a position similar from which Letchworth had gone ahead. With a hushed crowd giving the OAs kicker every opportunity, he struck the ball soundly, but wide of the posts, as the pressure mounted and the clock ran down. Then, to the horror of the watching entourage, Letchworth conceded a scrum dead centre on the 22 from the restart for encroaching in front of the kicker ; but, even when OAs desperately forced play onto the try-line on the far side, this was to be Letchworth’s day as successive waves of defenders smashed back the opposition's big boys to protect their lead. The referee’s whistle eventually came and heralded a huge roar from players and supporters alike : game over, 6-5 to Letchworth.

Three weeks ago, when the team managed to stay in League One with a proud win over Stortford, the sense of achievement was as huge as the dramatic turn-around in form since the end of 2007. But to take the County Cup from OAs, on their own patch, truly is a fantastic achievement and just reward for a team who never, ever give up.

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