Sports Reports – 14th March 2016

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The U14s continued their good form with a 3 – 0 win over Princethorpe. All the goals came in the first-half with Harry Best scoring a fine reverse stick finish to open the scoring. Will Westwood picked up Man of the Match for his two calmly taken goals.

Despite a 6 – 1 score line this was far from an easy victory for the U13s. For possibly the first time this season, Ratcliffe’s defence was put under genuine pressure, but they were not found wanting. Will Oswell made some good saves but, as always, Ratcliffe were very dangerous on the counter-attack. Owen Lloyd (2), Archie Heaney, who produced an outrageous dummy on the near post for Ratcliffe’s final goal, Connor Foster and, Man of the Match, Finley Back also with 2, were the goal scorers in a fantastic team performance.

The U13 B Team weekend fixture saw Ratcliffe contest a fantastic 1 – 1 draw with Princethorpe. It was Princethorpe who started the stronger, producing some good early chances, but they were unable to capitalise on their pressure. Half-time came and went, without a breakthrough for either side. The Ratcliffe boys continued to absorb pressure brilliantly in the second-half and looked to threaten Princethorpe on the counter-attack, especially down the right hand side through Will Oswell and Osric Navti. Ratcliffe were finally rewarded for their defensive efforts with a fantastic breakaway goal. A bundling run from the half-way line saw Sam Seidu in on the keeper, to which he calmly slotted the ball into the corner of the goal, giving Ratcliffe the lead. A brave Ratcliffe did all they could to hold onto the lead but unfortunately could not quite mange it, with Princethorpe equalising with 5 minutes to go. If it wasn’t for some outstanding saves from Sam Bullock and super clearances from Josh Wong, Princethorpe could have taken a lead in the later stages. In the end, a draw was a fair result for a super contest. Joint Man of the Match goes to Josh Wong and Osric Navti.

A significantly depleted U12 team lost 8 – 1 to a superb Princethorpe team. Despite going two goals down in the first 5 minutes the boys rallied well to play some fantastic hockey and really took the game to the opposition. After good work down the right by Roman Carpenter and a well finished goal by Guy Heywood the game was in the balance at 3 – 1. An excellent save by the Princethorpe keeper just before half-time was a key factor as that would have pegged the score back to 3 – 2. Ratcliffe continued to play some excellent hockey in the second-half with lovely sweeping moves down the right channel only to be hit on the break by some fantastic individual Princethorpe play. Xabier Zanotti, Guy Heywood and Roman Carpenter worked tirelessly in the midfield, but Man of the Match was Xavier Henderson for his superb tackling and distribution which broke down a number of the opposition attacks.

County Rugby
The 1st XV played their first competitive match in over three months in the long awaited Leicestershire County Cup semi-final. The team received a bye from the quarter-final and now faced strong opposition in Robert Smyth Academy. The visitors started well, playing with aggression in both the contact and at the ruck. However, Ratcliffe held firm and defended well in a match being refereed strictly according to the laws of the game! In what was an evenly matched first-half a couple of half breaks and missed tackles saw the visitors go to the interval 12 – 0 up with two well taken tries. However, a calm and determined Charlie Pickering rallied the side in his half-time team talk and only a few areas needed tightening up! The second-half saw a renewed and refreshed Ratcliffe side playing with real confidence. The forwards, led superbly by Tom Brambell, were cleaning out quickly and strongly at the breakdown and rapid service at nine from Seb Dewhirst was the key in moving the ball and stretching the opposition defence. Richard Ward was looking composed at fly-half with lots of options either side of him. Notwithstanding clean ball at the breakdown, Ratcliffe were now running hard into the opposition and winning penalties aplomb. The turning point was when Luke Gyesi-Appiah scored after a pick up from the scrum. Tom Brambell scored soon after with the return of the ‘Rumble’ at the lineout which for the ill-advised is a well-orchestrated catch and drive! After continuous pressure and patient building of the play I could sense, with the score at a nervy 12 – 12, that the winning score was inevitable. Pressure was building, though the referee was losing patience at the breakdowns and yellow carding several players from both sides! With around 5 minutes to play Ratcliffe could see the pressure building; rucks were clean, handling was sublime and players were running from deep with pace, gaining yardage each time. Pressure built and the opposition gave away several penalties as Ratcliffe edged towards the line; there was a real confidence and calmness. A line-out was stopped just short and after several pick and goes, Harry Brooks emerged from a pile of bodies with the ball under his chest and the winning score. Will Harkness added the extras and with only a few minutes remaining the result was safe with a very pleasing 19 – 12 win, in what was one of the best all-round performances of the season. The roar from the entire squad at the final whistle signified just how significant a win this was in what was the final home performance for the Upper Sixth players on home soil. Man of the Match was awarded to the entire playing squad the all-round commitment shown throughout the 70 minutes.

Congratulations to Jonathan Bellamy who won gold in the boys’ U14 sabre at the East Midlands BYC qualifying this weekend.

Old Ratcliffian Football
Well done to all the boys who played in the 7-a-side football match at the weekend. The game was played in a very good spirit with plenty of goals, with a final score off 18 – 16 to the Old Ratcliffians. It was nice to welcome back plenty of old faces and witness a few very good goals. Defences were certainly not on top in the match and I look forward to many more in the future.

Sam Nightingale,
Boys’ Sports Captain.

1st VII
An excellent 27 – 17 win by the First Team over Wellingborough was well deserved. From the first whistle to the last Ratcliffe played a focussed, well controlled game with excellent shooting from Kate Tyszka and Charley Flowers. Wellingborough never gave up and defenders, Adelaide Muskwe, Emily Sellicks and Nima Patel took control in the defending goal third to set up many counter-attacks. The centre-court players drove hard down the court with Holly Blount and Megan Vincent playing some superb long balls into Charley and Kate who rarely missed. Charley was Player of the Match.
This win was followed on Sunday by the annual match against the Old Ratcliffians. Girls who left between 3 and 8 years ago, some of whom are playing local club netball, returned to face the athleticism of the school team. Free-flowing netball followed with the school going into a convincing 24 – 7 lead at half-time.  Age was showing but the skill level was still there, but the atmosphere between the two teams was brilliant. Final score was 45 – 14. Thanks to all the players for an excellent afternoon of netball.

2nd VII
The Second Team started very well in their match against Wellingborough, playing with confidence, accuracy and pace. Ratcliffe went 3 – 1 ahead after the opening few centre passes, but then Wellingborough began to get the measure of our attack and pressured us in to errors across the court. Despite falling behind, we came back strongly in the second-quarter. We varied our attacking play to find ways to break down their defence, and we converted every one of our centre passes. Player of the Match, Chloe Flowers was exceptional through the centre-court, taking a series of tips and interceptions, and Rebecca Astill was on fire in the shooting circle. Wellingborough were showing that they were feeling the pressure, but this seemed to spur them on. They came out fighting after the half-time break and dominated the third-quarter, and despite a final-quarter fight back from Ratcliffe the game had been put too far out of reach, leaving us to settle for a 25 – 12 defeat.

The U14A team had a nail biting game against a strong Princethorpe side, scoring just before the final whistle to win 17 – 16. The girls put immense pressure on the opposition forcing lots of mistakes, which they took advantage of to keep themselves in the game. Layla Bott and Sofia Henderson played fantastically together in the defensive circle, forcing errors and intercepting lots of feeds into the Princethorpe shooters. Mia Atkinson, Holly Vinall and Sharmel Yapa once again worked the ball fluently down court to feed the shooters. The hard, fast balls proved too difficult for Princethorpe to defend, followed by the accuracy of the feeds into the circle. Ellie Hollinshead and Abby Santaney worked well in the circle, passing the ball until they were in a good shooting position. The girls worked tirelessly throughout the game and didn’t give up, especially Holly Vinall, who got Player of the Match for her constant determination. Well played girls!

Mid-week the U13A team had a nail-biting and tough game against Stoneygate, but it was Ratcliffe who came out on top winning 16 – 15 in the last minute of the game. A fantastic attitude was displayed by all the girls and it really was an exciting game to watch; with their hard work paying off. One down at half-time they had to work hard in the third-quarter to turn the ball over. Thanks to exceptional defence and transitional play through the court the girls went in to the fourth-quarter with the scores tied. Ratcliffe worked hard in both attack and defence and shooters, Ellie Gallacher and Eleanor Shaw were tightly marked, but their movement skills enabled them to get in to great positions and Aimee Cleminson fed the ball to them beautifully. Our defence was superb, winning interceptions and turning over the ball on numerous occasions, maintaining their lead to pull off the win. Player of the Match goes to Dalila Watson whose transitional play was superb; intercepting the ball and converting the play into attack. On Saturday they started quite slow in a tough game against Princethorpe and couldn’t quite string their passes together or link up our traditional play as they had done in Wednesday’s game. This resulted in a 10 goal deficit going in to the third-quarter. The girls showed a fighting spirit and won both the third and fourth quarters but unfortunately couldn’t do enough to win the game, losing 23 – 16. Players of the Match go to Aimee Cleminson who was superb throughout the game and Dalila Watson.
The U13B team lost 14 – 12 in a match where they had led from the start. A low scoring game in the first-half suddenly sprang into life with great shooting from Samantha Seidu and Sophie Brown. A couple of silly mistakes in the final minutes were capitalised on by Princethorpe.

The U12A team had an excellent 17 – 6 win against Stoneygate mid-week. They started off well with some great passing throughout the court to Annie Bridgwood and Annie Rose Reddin, They finished the first-quarter 6 – 1 up but started to play too quickly resulting in simple, careless mistakes. However, some excellent defending work from Elise Atkinson, helped settle the team and they got back into playing and passing with control and fluency. Player of the Match went to Amy Mason for her excellent work rate and determination. On Saturday they started strongly in their match against Princethorpe, converting off their centre passes with positive shooting from Annie Rose Reddin and Annie Bridgwater.  One intercept from Princethorpe saw Ratcliffe trailing in the first-quarter 7 – 5.  Unfortunately they struggled to get the ball into the shooting circle in the second-quarter, despite strong defence from Millie Chapman and Elise Atkinson, and Princethorpe extended their lead to 13 – 7 at half-time.  The difference wasn’t out of reach, but again they struggled mid-court to make their defensive intercepts count and saw Princethorpe grow in confidence, extending their lead even further to 21 – 8 at the end of the third-quarter.  They kept their heads up and continued to fight for every ball, with great mid-court intercepts from Annie Rose Reddin and Maddi Bryant, but the deficit was too great with the final score 26 – 11.   Maddi Bryant was Player of the Match for her persistent mid-court defence.
The U12B team suffered a heavy 28 – 4 defeat to a very strong Princethorpe team. Nevertheless, the girls kept going and never gave up. Player of the Match went to Rachel Astill for her accurate passing and fight throughout the game.

Sibella Chew,
Girls’ Sports Captain.