Deanery and Cas book final spots
Deanery High School and Castleford High School saw off intense competition to reach the Year 11 National School Championships final.
Deanery fought off last year’s finalists Settle with a 6-0 victory while Castleford ran rampant against Holy Cross with an 18-0 victory.
The competition was played in a fair yet competitive spirit, with the play being flamboyant and fluid throughout, along with some superb defensive work and tough hits.
With all five teams playing each other in a round robin competition, it gave everyone a chance to progress to the semis.
Holy Cross set the ball rolling with a 4-0 win over Deanery courtesy of a breath taking individual effort from Liz Wormsley, while Settle made their intentions clear with a 12-0 win over London based Feltham.
All sides showed promising signs of ability, but it was Castleford who impressed in the group stages, winning all their games, with Ellie Smith being at the heart of the majority of their attacking moves.
After all the games had finished, it was Feltham who fell just short, despite earning a well-deserved draw against Holy Cross.
The first semi-final was between Castleford and Holy Cross, and it was Castleford who drew first blood when Amy Tait broke through the defence with a frightening turn of pace before racing to the line.
It wasn’t long until they got their second try, when Darcie Wiggins crashed over from short distance to give the group winners a two try cushion.
Despite Holy Cross seemingly destined to defeat, they certainly refused to give up without a fight, with Steph Knott and Sophie Unsworth providing valiant performances for their team.
However there was nothing they could do to stop Castleford, who put gloss on their victory when the impressive Brogan Churm broke through the defence with ease before touching down.
In the other semi-final, Settle and Deanery locked horns to fight for the chance to play at Odsal.
The two sides had drawn six apiece in their group match, and also last years final, so it was inevitable that it was to be a similar outcome in this match.
With both sides defending impeccably, either team struggled to break the deadlock.
However, Deanery found the first and only try through Chloe Hammond, before solid defensive work from Poppi Blundell, Chelsea Newton and Rebeeca Coocksey fended off a dangerous Settle team, who despite having the threating talents of Lauren Dugdale, Imogen Doyle and Amber Duxbury in their repertoire couldn’t find a way through the solid Deanery defence.
Castleford head coach Keith Bullimore said, “It’s a fantastic achievement, we wanted to set a goal of winning the Championship Schools as it’s their last year together as a team.
“We’re one step closer to that but Deanery are a very good team so we’ll have to be ready.”
Deanery director of sport Chris Sweeney added, “I thought the girls performed very well in what were difficult playing conditions, they showed some promise in the group round and then provided a very strong performance against a really good team like Settle was a great result.”
“We’re absolutely delighted for the girls.
“There is a lot of prestige associated with the trophy and people at the school will be very proud of them but the girls should be proud too.
“They’ve worked very hard in their five years of rugby, and the final will be their last game together so it will be a privilege for them to play on that stage.”
The final will be held at Odsal Stadium, home of Super League club Bradford Bulls on the Wednesday May 9.