For the first time in five years of trying, the Year 11 Girls Rugby League team made it to the National Festival after winning the Yorkshire Tournament, and they have now gone one further and made it to the National Final, where they will take on Castleford High to see who will be crowned the best team in the country.
Sirius Academy 24 Astley High 0
First up for Sirius in the National Tournament was the National Champions Astley High, which was going to be a tough test for the Sirius side. But the team, led by Shauna Jones was very focused and looked in a determined mood to ensure they started the competition with a win, and they did just that and in style too as they pulled off the best performance to date. Jorden Shakespear set the scene for the game with a superb individual try as the Astley team could not cope with her strength and speed. Smart thinking from Saffron Jones extended the lead shortly after as she crashed over showing great power as she got out from three players to put the ball down. Next on the scoresheet was Mia Duke, with a great darting run through the middle. But it was the defence of the Sirius side that was impressive, with Astley High not even getting near the tryline as the line speed was ensuring they did not make many yards forward. Kayleigh Waller finished off the scoring in a convincing 24 – 0 victory over the current National Champions.
Sirius Academy 24 Whitburn 0
Sirius were playing with confidence and it showed in the next game with another convincing win over Whitburn. Right from the kick off Kayleigh Waller made good yards forward and from a quick play the ball Mia Duke scooted through the gap to score the opener. Whitburn tried to go around the outside and use their pace, but wingers Paige Fletcher and Aimee Harris were tackling anything that ran at them, ensuring that the Sirius side would keep another clean sheet. Carla Manuel took the ball up the pitch and dragged in many of the Whitburn players, which Jorden Shakespear was quick to react to as she darted over through the gap. Shakespear again was in fine form and thought she had scored a full length try, but just got caught short, but captain Shauna Jones showed great support play to go over for an easy, but smart try. Sirius didn’t finish there, a great move down the left hand side saw some good passing down the line, and there was Georgia Travagli to burst through the gap to extend the score to 24 – 0 before the final whistle.
Sirius Academy 16 Rainford 0
Sirius knew that if they beat Rainford then they would go through to the National Final, which gave them great incentive to start the game well. They defended the first set of six like Trojans, with all the squad working hard and putting in some big hits. Amelia Longden was working overtime from the square marker position as Rainford struggled to make many yards. Sirius were controlling the ball well and not making any mistakes with the ball in hand. Once again Kayleigh Waller proved too fast and strong for Rainford and she stepped her way through to the tryline with a great solo effort. Rainford got stronger as the game went on, but good tackling from Emily Savage, Georgia Wardell, Shannon Thornton and Molly Bigby prevented them from scoring out wide. Waller doubled the lead after some great work from Mia Duke and Shauna Jones to put her through the gap. Jorden Shakespear rounded off the scoring in another convincing win for Sirius, and another clean sheet
Sirius Academy 6 Castleford Academy 12
Both Sirius and Castleford had won all their previous games, which meant that regardless of this result, both teams would go through to the National Final, where they would play each other for the cup. Sirius started well and had four sets of six near the Castleford line, but credit to the Castleford defence, it was very hard to break down as Sirius knew they should have taken the early lead if they had been a bit smarter with the ball. Castleford made their way down the pitch and crashed over from close range in the corner. Castleford grew in confidence and when they put up a high kick on the last tackle while fullback Kayleigh Waller was down injured, no-one in the Sirius team dealt with it and bounced kindly for the Castleford player to touch down. Sirius were determined to get a try back before the final whistle and after a fantastic drop off to Kayleigh Waller in centre field there was no stopping her race over under the sticks to make the scoreline 12 – 6 in favour of Castleford.
The girls will now face Castleford in the Yorkshire Final at Featherstone Rovers on Wednesday 13th April and then in the National Final at Leigh Sports Village on Tuesday 26th April.
Please congratulate the girls on their incredible achievement in their final year at the Academy. They have worked extremely hard over the years to get to this stage and will ensure they do everything they can to be crowned the best team in the country at Year 11.
Squad: Kayleigh Waller, Paige Fletcher, Amelia Longden, Shannon Thornton, Aimee Harris, Shauna Jones, Molly Bigby, Georgia Travagli, Mia Duke, Saffron Jones, Jorden Shakespear, Georgia Wardell, Emily Savage and Carla Manuel
Special thanks to Miss Shaw for her support with team.