The West Lakes Academy Year 9 girls rugby league team has reached the finals of the national cup for the second year running. After losing last year’s national cup final to Castleford Academy, West Lakes have bounced back with a string of victories.
In the county round, West Lakes dominated to become Cumbria’s champions with some excellent team performances. Year 8 student Olivia Brinsden was awarded player of the tournament for the second year running after a string of superb performances.
This led to the national festival in Leeds where West Lakes defeated the southern champions 18-6 in a very physical game, despatched the Lancashire champions Hawkley Hall of Wigan, 12-6 before facing Castleford Academy. Despite dominating the game West Lakes lost 12-6 meaning that they qualified as runners up and moved into the national semi-final against Brooksbank Sports College of Leeds. After an early knock on by Brooksbank, Amber Lewitt ran the length of the field to score under the posts. Solid defence from West Lakes’ Olivia Brinsden, Amber Lewitt, Isla Henderson and Sophie Price kept Brooksbank at bay for the next fifteen minutes before Brooksbank hit back scoring an excellent solo try. The last five minutes of the first half were chaotic with both teams making errors resulting in a 16-16 scoreline. It was clear both teams were beginning to tire and that the first ten minutes of the second half would be crucial. Captain Isla Henderson made some huge runs from the early scrums resulting in tries for Olivia Brinsden and Amber Lewitt, both converted by Brinsden. Once again Brooksbank hit back with a try in the corner before West Lakes turned it up in defence and a huge hit by Sophie Price resulted in a knock on and a chance to extend the lead. Maddi Hawthorne took it to the line well and passed it wide for Fay Percival who charged through two defenders. Quick thinking from Price meant that the ball was moved quickly down the line to Brinsden who crashed through for her hat trick. Katey Quayle, Catherine Crichton and Percival led the defence after this and Brooksbank were dragged into touch. From the resulting scrum West Lakes made it close to the line after some strong running and a high tackle on Christina Smith meant a penalty tap near the sticks. Brinsden tapped and dummied through the defence for a try under the sticks. Brooksbank never gave in and nearly scored before West Lakes took control once more. Lewitt, Brinsden and Crichton making hard yards down the middle before a chip through by Brinsden was chased down by Millie Fitzpatrick. She forced the defender to kick it into touch and West Lakes had the final scrum. Isla Henderson shot down the wing before offloading inside to Annie Roberts who was brought down close to the line. Quayle passed form dummy half and Price shipped it out wide to Brinsden who scored once again.
Coach and West Lakes Academy PE teacher Alex Price said: “This was the best performance they have produced yet. They were outstanding in attack and defence and held their nerve well in a very tense game. There is still more to come from this team as we have players returning from injury and are committed to the next few weeks of training. I would also like to thank my assistant coach Cameron Purdham, an ex-pupil of West Lakes and former rugby captain who accompanied me on the day and whose valuable advice on kicking and coaching throughout the day was priceless.”
West Lakes Academy play Castleford Academy in the final on July the 5th at Victoria Park, Warrington before joining the pitch parade at the Challenge Cup final at Wembley in August.
If anyone would like to donate money towards the cost of the trip please could they contact Alex Price on:- firstname.lastname@example.org