Last Saturday saw the Cardiff Blues youngsters make the long journey across the border to Lichfield RFC to compete in the Regional Youth Festival.
Being the only Welsh team competing there was a lot of pride at stake but this only made the girls more determined and it showed when they were crowned the champions of the tournament.
The Blues had progressed through to this stage with convincing victories over the Ospreys, Dragons and North Wales in the WRU regional competition. The previous weekend had seen the Blues take on the Scarlets to decide the winner of the Welsh regional competition. Despite great efforts by each team the game resulted in a 0-0 draw which saw the Blues go through on points difference.
The Welsh flags were flying high when the Blues eventually arrived at Lichfield. The girls were put in a group with West Midlands and Thames Valley. With each game only being 20 minutes long, the Blues girls had to come out firing in their first game against West Midlands. From the off, the Blues were constantly camped in the oppositions 22 and finally the deadlock was broken with a score from Joanne Jones. Quick reactions allowed the scrum-half to capitalise on a mistake at the back of the oppositions scrum and run over for her first try on the day. The conversion was unsuccessful.
The West Midlands responded with a number of attacks but the Blues defence held strong. The West Midlands ended the game positively counter attacking from a Blues mistake. The attack was cut short by a superb cover tackle by Amberley Ruck to end the game 5-0.
The next hurdle came in the form of Thames Valley who proved to be a stronger outfit than the West Midlands. The game was evenly matched until the last minutes of the game which saw Amberley Ruck and Lily Snape linking up to get the ball wide to Cerys Ballett who squeezed over the try line to score. The conversion was unsuccessful leaving the final score 5-0.
As the Winners of their pool, the Blues progressed to compete for the Cup and faced the South East in the semi-final. From the kick-off the Blues attacked with a powerful run by Jenny Collins putting the South East under pressure. With a spell of solid defence from the Blues their hard work was rewarded with a try form Joanne Jones. A South East mistake resulting in a Blues penalty, allowed Jones to tap and go and run unchallenged to the line. The boot of Brogan Jones added 2 more points making the score 7-0.
The South East responded moments later with a try leaving the half-time score 7-5.
The second half saw much of the same from the Blues with superb defensive work by Cushing, Rees, Greenman, Osborne, Collins and Snape halting South East in their tracks. The Blues finally sealed the win with ball put out wide for Dela Anderson to fly down the wing to score her first of the day. Final Score 12-5.
After a long and tiring day, the Blues had to face a strong East team in a nail-biting final. From the kick-off, the Blues stepped up the gears and bombarded East with a number of attacks and quickly had 5 points on the board with a try from Cerys Ballett. The try was unconverted.
Moments later, great hands and vision by the Blues backs allowed Molly Atkins to cross the line and score. Try unconverted. However, it wouldn't be a final without some tension and the East responded with a try of their own making the half-time score 10-5.
Despite the early pressure, the Blues seemed to switch off momentarily in the second half. The East capitalised on Blues mistakes and scored their second try of the game leaving the score 10-10. As the game progressed it looked like the game could be won by either team, however the Blues pushed each other on for the last minutes of the game.
A darting run from within her own half saw Molly Atkins run clear through the East's defensive line only to be stopped short of the line. The Blues were awarded a scrum with last play of the game. This proved to be all the Blues needed as scrum-half Joanne Jones took the ball from the back of the scrum and powered over the line to score under the posts. Brogan Jones kicked the conversion which proved to be the last play of the tournament and to firmly seal the Blues victory.
As the only Welsh team in the competition, Cardiff Blues lined up on the half way line to give a fantastic rendition of 'Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau' to all the supporters and players to finish off a fantastic day for the Blues and an outstanding season.
On behalf of U15's Cardiff Blues girls, I would like to thank the RFUW for being invited to such a great event, to Lichfield RFC for their hospitality, Cardiff Blues and the WRU for their constant support throughout the season. Finally the biggest thanks must go out to all players, parents and supporters for their commitment and support to the team from start to finish.