ASHBOURNE Under-14s are NLD Sevens Shield champions after emerging victorious from a competition in Kesteven.
This was a big challenge for the squad of just 10 players, being the first time they had competed in such a tournament.
Playing in a very strong pool, Ashbourne improved as the tournament wore on, winning two games, drawing one and losing one, and scoring 12 tries.
This meant a semi-final against West Bridgford, which Ashbourne started much better than their opponents, building a quick lead.
As is the ebb and flow of sevens, West Bridgford fought their way back into the tie, but Ashbourne defended supremely well to come out on top, three tries to two.
A final against Southwell was their reward, a team they had faced recently in a very tight 15-a-side game.
Ashbourne had definitely saved the best until last and now looked a real force in this shortened form of the game.
Matching a much larger side physically, and with greater fluency and pace with the ball, Ashbourne ran out 12-0 winners to win the NLD Shield.
Coach David Brown said: “This was a Herculean effort for a squad of only 10.
“The tournament was a whole team effort with seven players scoring tries – Jack Bowers, Will Farr, George Beard, Harry Zona, Bertie Linnell, Charlie Hart, Will Mousley; and Tom Brown – while Archie Shaw, Robbie Cooper also made impressive contributions.”
Ashbourne were also able to field a competitive team in a 15-a-side friendly away to Derby.
Despite a few players playing out of position and fielding a team one short, Ashbourne were runaway winners by seven tries to four.
Again, a real team performance saw six different try scorers in Joe Mines (2), Ian Dawson, Rob Edge, Josh Wright, Matty Young and a 70-yard runaway from Dominic Simpson-Allsop.
The rest of the team, who also enhanced their playing reputations in this match were Tom Edge, Toby Doran, Al Monteith, Matt Dowling, Louis Howson, Oscar Wainwright, Tom Dixon, Nathan McHugh and Callum Hellaby.
“After the disappointment of losing last week’s NLD semi final, this Sunday’s performances were a real tonic for all 24 players involved – and all did their club very proud,” said Brown.