HAJC welcomed a strong Loughborough Grammar School to Hinckley RFC for the Semi-final of the U15 County Cup on a fortunately cold, but fresh, January afternoon.
Early HAJC pressure, with strong interplay between the forwards and backs led to an excellent break from Drakeford, however the ball was turned over and the first points went to Loughborough from a neatly finished score in the left corner. It took HAJC a while to find their feet, and losing the ball in contact and some uncharacteristic errors meant Loughborough held on to their lead against the territory and possession. This was the how the first half seemed to be going, the HInckley team was too eager and made some silly errors. Eventually a strong break from Whittingham led to a converted try by Drakeford.
Play had hardly resumed when Kurtis Smith was given too much space on the outside 30m from the line and went over in the corner after a typical run which left several would be Loughborough tacklers in his wake. Drakeford couldn’t make the extras but the players felt the 12-5 lead was justified. Loughborough were clearly up for the challenge and just before half time scored a well-executed driving maul from their line-out.
After the break, Hinckley extended the lead inside the first 10 minutes. A well-timed turnover from Drakeford, which was a feature of the Hinckley pack, led to a 12 phase attack in which Loughborough were broken down until the ball was moved wide to secure the third try by Drakeford.
Again Loughborough kept going, and from the restart they were given possession from a Hinckley mistake, Loughborough moved the ball quickly through the backs, and scored a converted score near the posts for 17-19 to HAJC.
The rest of the half though belonged to Hinckley, with Burton and Underwood turning the ball over several times and well executed attack’s leading to the Loughborough line on 3 more occasions, with Drakeford converting 2. A blistering run from Kurtis Smith led to his second try, and typically strong carries from Underwood and Drakeford led to his hat-trick with 5 minutes to go.
Sure enough Loughborough came back again and with 4 minutes to go scored from a nice piece of play, involving a quick tap from a penalty which caught Hinckley unaware. Their flyhalf who picked a superb line to power over under the posts and give an easy kick for the visitors.
HAJC held on for the final score of 36-24, with the final of the County Cup scheduled for the 15th/17th of March.