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Monday, 28 July 2014

St Benedict's eyeing glory in cup competitions

A Whitehaven school has highlighted the strength of the junior game in west Cumbria by reaching the latter stages of the Carnegie Champion Schools competition in three age groups.

St Benedict’s Year 11s will renew battle with Brooksbank, of Halifax, in a national semi-final at a neutral venue in Leeds next Tuesday. While their Year 8s and Year 10s are both still in with a chance of national glory after reaching the last-eight of their respective competitions.

The current Year 11s were beaten 34-26 by Brooksbank in the national final played at Uxbridge two years ago. And St Benedict’s coach Paul Farrell is looking forward to the rematch.

He said: “Obviously our lads remember what happened two years ago and want to level up the score.

“Brooksbank hold the upper hand as they been national champions for the past three years in their respective age groups.

“And they will be well-led by schools’ international Kruise Leeming. He’s on a Warrington scholarship and was a stand-out player for England Youth against France over Easter.

“But our confidence is high and we expect to finish the season going in to a national final.”

St Benedict’s will be led by junior international Jordan Burns, of Kells, who will be joined by fellow Warrington scholarship ace Luke Davison (Wath Brow), and Kells and Salford pair Connor Hetherington and Joe Riley.

Plus Wath Brow quartet Callum Farrer, Cole Walker-Taylor, Kurtis Quinn and Greg Howland, and Egremont’s Will Agnew, all on Cumbria scholarships.

The school’s Year 10s battled back from 18-0 down to knock top RL school St Peter’s, of Wigan, out of the tournament 25-18 in an earlier round.

And similar battling qualities will be needed against reigning champs Outward Grange, of Wakefield, in their forthcoming last-eight clash in Yorkshire.

Classy Wigan pair Dominic Wear (Kells) and Jake Moore (Wath Brow) are in the Benny’s side, along with Nathan Doran (Kells and Salford) and Cumbria scholarship kids Danny Docherty and Thomas Ferguson (both Wath Brow), and Daniel Caine and Jordan Johnstone (both Kells).

The school’s current Year 8s last year reached the national semi-finals where beaten 14-12 by Brooksbank. And this year they may face an even tougher task in their quarter-final against St Wilfred’s of Featherstone, who knocked out Brooksbank in the last round. But at least the Cumbrians will have home advantage for the May 2 test.

“In my opinion, this should be the final,” Farrell said. “These are the best two sides in the competition by far, unfortunately, the draw hasn’t panned out that way. Our lads will have a good preparation, and we are very confident of winning.”

Meanwhile, Kells A came out on top 34-4 in their Cumberland League Division Two visit to Glasson A. The visitors hit the front after a good run from Nathan Maninga split the defence.

Glasson replied with a fine solo effort from Ben Waugh, and that’s how it stayed until five minutes before the break when Darren Wilson scored to make it 8-4 to Kells.

The second-half belonged to Kells, Brad Smith to the fore with some darting runs and cheeky offloads.

The visitors opened the scoring when prop Sean High burst the line and sneaked an offload to Steve McCourt to cross.

Wilson then jinked through for another score and High latched on to a Brad Smith break to score under the posts.

He was followed by Martin Thompson, whose strength was too much for a tired Glasson side. Liam McNally finished off a good move to end the game. Wilson converted three of the tries.

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