Ponteland High School’s Under 12s entered the Rugby League Champ Schools competition for the first time this year with many players having their first experience of playing Rugby League.
During the local qualifying round, held at Ponteland in December, the team qualified after scoring a late try and withstanding heavy pressure against Hexham Middle, after a defeat against Churchill College. These results were enough to see Ponteland qualify for the Regional finals at Egglescliffe in Stockton. As second seeds for the North of the Tyne, our team played first seeds Egglescliffe in the semi final. Jamie W scored an early try and although Ponteland were 3 tries to 1 up, Egglescliffe forced the game into overtime. A tired team worked extremely hard and were unlucky on several occasions before Ollie J found space and a last ditch dive ensured the winning try was scored.
Next stop … the final, where Ponteland played Churchill College, the same team they lost to in the local rounds. Suffering from a little bit of fatigue, Churchill capitalised on not playing overtime in their semi final by taking an early lead and despite our boys valiant efforts they could not force an equaliser before half time. Further punishment was inflicted when Churchill scored a second try early in the second half making it a mountain to climb for the team. Player of the tournament, Ollie J led by example and rallied the team with big tackles and minimising the threat of the opponent's main player. Within minutes of going 2-0 down we had halved the deficit; Reuben G who had been a constant threat, battled his way through the opposition defence to score a well deserved try. With time ticking down, it was Ollie J who repeated his semi final heroics to find the try line with a powerful run to take another game into sudden death overtime. Overtime lasted nearly 40 minutes as no side could break their opponents down. The breakthrough arrived on the fifth and last tackle. Ollie J received the ball at dummy half and offloaded the ball to Fin T, who found debutant Tobi J who found space to score the winning try and ensure Ponteland became North East Champions. We now enter the National Competition and will play the third seeded team from Yorkshire.
Mr Thomson said “The boys were absolutely fantastic the entire day, by the end of both games myself and Mr Adair had run out of superlatives to describe their efforts. More importantly than winning the tournament, the boys represented our school and themselves elegantly. We are very proud of them all, and hope that they have created memories to last a lifetime.”