In a replay of last year’s final, Cramlington Rockets U16s A won the North East Cup final with a win over Jarrow Vikings at Kingston Park Stadium.
In front of a big crowd, the Rockets overcame a fierce Jarrow side 30-18 to lift the first silverware of the North East season.
With both sides going into the match unbeaten this year, it was the Rockets who were slight underdogs after a series of performances that, though effective, had not been as polished as usual.
With the Rockets Family out in force to add to the atmosphere, the Rockets made the best possible start, with Ryan Hull racing in for a try from 80 metres before Seth Kippax-Jones snaffled a high ball from the jumping defender to scamper in from 20 metres out to take the score to 8-0 after only a few minutes.
The lead was stretched further by Harry Cable to make the score 14-0 with Zac Thompson converting from a difficult angle.
With a cushion built, Jarrow started to fight back. Powerful surges through the midfield found the Rockets struggling to dominate the collision and Jarrow quickly found themselves in the Rockets’ danger zone.
A foot in touch delayed the first Jarrow score but several short range blasts from the ruck were too much for the Rockets and Jarrow crossed for an unconverted score.
Penalties in their own half meant the Rockets found themselves defending their line once again and Jarrow were over again.
With half time beckoning, jinking footwork from Tom Marshall saw him cross in the corner to take the score to 18-8 at the break.
Jarrow started the second half the better, a quick moved ball seeing their winger cross for a six-point try.
The Rockets struck back straight away with the electric Oliver Gowing darting over in a man-of-the-match performance. Thompson added the extras.
With time running out, Jarrow continued to harass the Rockets’ defence, strong carries down the middle eventually bearing fruit to score and bring themselves within one converted try.
With the tension and volume of the crowd mounting, the Rockets mounted one final attack.
Marshall once again took the ball forward, beating several men with his footwork before using his strength to barrel over in the corner for the crucial score and stretch the lead to 30-18 meaning Jarrow needed two scores now.
With no time left, the final whistle went and the Rockets bench ran onto the pitch to celebrate an impressive display by the whole team.
“I have not enough superlatives to describe this bunch” said Coach, Danny Gilroy. “It is a fantastic group that has grown together over the last four years and I would not change a thing.
“Thank you must go to their family members and all the non-playing members of the squad for their support”
“And thank you to the wider Rockets Family who turned up in their droves to cheer us on. It was magnificent to see. Our focus now moves onto the league finals and we will look to do it all again next month.”