ALNWICK U10s took to the rugby field at the weekend determined to win back the title of County Champions that was so cruelly lost last season.
This year, the County Cup competition was held at West Tynedale, quite a hike from Alnwick but 25 players with coaches, parents and supporters made their way to a bright but chilly Haydon Bridge.
The competition was organised into four groups, the winner of each group went through to the semi finals and then the winners of these went through to the final and a chance at the ultimate prize, the County Cup.
It was clear that to guarantee a place in the finals, remaining undefeated was the key.
The boys and girl from Alnwick were split into two teams, the Lions (who roar) and the Tigers (who pounce).
The Lions started slowly and could only draw with a physical Northern B team. It now became essential to win the next two matches.
They raised their game and comprehensively beat Morpeth and then moved up another gear to ease past Tynedale and to the top of their group. Although they started slowly, the momentum was building and their place in the semi-finals was then guaranteed.
The Tigers, meanwhile, faired even better, winning all of their group matches, battling hard against the Tynedale second team and cruising past Whitley Bay Rockcliffe to set up a decider for group winner against hosts West Tynedale. In what was a hard-fought game, all of the Tigers played their part to secure a 3-2 victory and a place in the semi-finals.
At this point, the ecstatic coaches could see an all Alnwick final as the Tigers were playing with commitment and force, and the Lions were ferocious and swift.
Sadly, in their semi-final, the Tigers were beaten by a technically good Northern A side, but every single Tiger played their hearts out in a battling performance which deserved so much more.
The Lions beat Novos by quite a superior margin and this set up an Alnwick Lions against Northern A final for the fourth time in four seasons. The prize was the County Cup.
The match, of six minutes each way, was played at a furious pace with the Lions moving into top gear and the supporters of both sides lifting the players.
In a pulsating first half, Alnwick raced into a 3-1 lead.
At the break, all that was asked for was more of the same and the second half was a hard-fought game and became nail-biting when Northern forced a try to make the score 3-2. The Lions showed their defensive skills and held on to claim the victory.
At the final whistle, the Lions roared again as they had won back their title and have now been County Champions three times in the last four years.
The whole squad, both Lions and Tigers celebrated in style drinking fizzy pop from the County Cup. Everyone agreed it had been a great day for Northumberland County Rugby and especially Alnwick U10s, who now have two out of the top four teams in Northumberland.
The squad will now go on to defend their titles won at the Durham and Alnwick Festivals last year and will take part in their first sevens tournament at Tynedale.
Alnwick Lion: Will Stewart (C), Will Pettifer, Luke Stevens, Charlie Renner, ‘Hash’ Sinton, Jamie Comber, Harvey Young, Oliver Flannigan, Charlie Nesbitt, Joe Pickard, Henry Robson, George Dodds.
Alnwick Tigers – Mark Humphreys (Capt), Fergus Burn, Ian Apthorpe, Cuthbert Craig, Jamie Smibert, Joel Hobson, Hal Burke, Will Smith, Tristan Green, Lewis Marley, Megan Marley, Josh McDonald, Harry Mortimer.