The weekend past saw a huge game of rugby, involving two of world rugby’s super powers. Yes that’s right, Manchester Chargers were back with their first pre season tournament (and England played South Africa too, but let’s not speak about that.)
The first of the Northwest Regional Development Series 19/20 saw seven teams battling it out to be crowned champions. The spirits were high within the chargers camp, who were fielding 2 teams: Super Chargers captained by the returning Corrie, and Turbo Chargers captained by the enigmatic mystery that is Nubli.
A late drop out saw the turbo chargers pool only consisting of 3 teams. Turbos started strongly against Blaze, winning their opening match 7-2 with Georgie scoring a hat trick. As always, the handling skills of the Artist formerly known as Harry A were sublime, with some outrageous passes on display. Referees Tom and Gregg could only watch in awe as Harry 'Aladdin' Armitage threw a behind the back pass to Pearce for a superb score in the corner.
Father and daughter combination of Paul and Ella Riordan demonstrated some great defence to stop the scores against Blaze and throughout the day. The second game against Orrell St James was a much closer affair.
Turbos went 2-0 up fairly quickly in the match and from then on, seemed to drop pace and intensity thinking the match was won. Several times Crosse found himself through off a scoop, only to crumble under the pressure and either pass the ball to the floor or throw a forward pass American football style. Like the All Blacks, he couldn’t handle the immense pressure. OSJ bravely fought back to 3-2, with a last minute dive being denied for them, and chargers relieved to have won the game.
Super Chargers topped their group with 3 convincing victories against Sedgley Park (5-1), Orrell Anvils (6-0) and MMU (5-2).
I personally didn’t get to experience every detail of the super Chargers day having played for Turbos, but here are some highlights as detailed by Tom:
Gregg and Julia on the same wavelength for several impressive scoop and scores
Joe Meadows was really fast and strong on the drive. Also reliably informed that he got chased down by a player twice his size.
Great to see Corrie back and playing well even though she lost every Rock Paper Scissors
Old dog Tim Shields made a triumphant return, scoring a full length dive on 3G. Ouch.
Sammy played really well and gave great comms all day, playing all over the park. Then she let in a score and she got the dreaded 'Gregg stare'...
Paul Ashton proved his worth especially positionally on line defence, keeping out the scores.
New kid on the block Danny drove excellently and gained some valuable tournament experience in his debut for the club.
Tom looked buff when he reffed (and played really well)
Both Chargers teams topped the group, job 1 done. Time for the semi finals against pool runners up, both of the Orrells. The strength of both chargers sides were too strong, and could not be separated on points, both winning 5-1 to progress to an all chargers final.
The stage was set, the teams evenly matched and undefeated during the day: something had to give. It was the biggest match of rugby since New Zealand lost to England in the semi finals of the World Cup and couldn’t become 3 time back to back world champions but at least they finished third overall so that’s a positive. Nubs struck an early blow, winning the Rock Paper Scissors for the turbos, and deciding that supers would have to play with their kit inside out. However this quickly backfired when everyone decided that we quite liked the idea of having a white second kit.
The Super Chargers started strongly, taking an early 1-0 lead within the first few minutes. Turbo quickly struck back though with a slice of magic, the dummy short from Ice Road Pete saw Crosse scoop past the defence and throw his first successful pass under pressure of the day to Becci on the wing. Game on. The match continued with a series of close calls for both teams, with defence coming out trumps. Eventually, the G R double G managed to sneak past the defence with his blistering speed and Julia Kang was there for a finishing masterclass on the wing. The Turbos found themselves 2 scores down with 5 minutes remaining and despite their best efforts, could not find a way back into the game. Final score, 3-1 to the Super Chargers: a well deserved victory.
A great start to the Pre season for all of the Manchester Chargers, an exciting glimpse of what’s to come next season. Well done and congratulations to everyone who played, particularly all 6 of the women playing a full day with no subs. Round 2 is on the 24th November, lets make it 2/2 for Chargers.
Roll of Honour