A LAST gasp try from player-of-the-match Bennett Tupaea secured victory for the Saddleworth School year nine rugby league team that progressed to the quarter finals of the Carnegie National Schools’ Cup.
Trailing 16-14 with less than a minute remaining, it required a bursting run from the second-row forward to touchdown under the posts to break the hearts of the travelling South Wales opposition, Cwm Rhymni School.
In an evenly-contested match, the lead changed hands on three occasions with the visitors, who had set off from the Wales at 8am in the morning for the 1.45pm kick off, looking the more likely winners as the game headed towards its conclusion.
Saddleworth captain Kien Molloy darted over for two short-range tries from dummy half either side of the break to give the Saddleworth side the initiative, but long-range replies from the Welsh side repelled the advantage.
Will Marston scored a wonderful individual try for the hosts before leaving the field with a leg injury, but some woeful goal kicking looked to have cost Saddleworth the opportunity to progress in the competition.
Indeed, it was the Welsh side that looked to have taken the spoils with a full-length converted try with only three minutes left.
Yet, the late drama was still to come as Saddleworth gained a scrum from the restart which resulted in them setting up Tupaea to crash over the line on the fourth tackle sparking scenes of celebration for the home side and despair for the spirited opponents.
Saddleworth’s year eight rugby union team produced an astonishing comeback to defeat the highly rated Yorkshire first-seeded team Malet Lambet from Hull 26-20 in round one of the National Schools’ Championship at Sheffield Hallam University in wet and blustery conditions.
Trailing 20-10 with seven minutes remaining, it looked more like damage limitation was the order of the day with the Hull side piling on the pressure with wave after wave of attack.
However, three stunning tries from Zach Eckersley (year seven), Lucas Clarke and Lewis Smethurst secured an unlikely victory and a home tie in the national quarter finals next month.
Other Saddleworth tries came from Joel Cunniffe and Charlie McManus with captain Tom Whitehead adding 3 conversions.
The year eight basketball team reached the semi-finals of the Oldham schools’ tournament at the ball hall in Failsworth.
They bowed out losing 28-10 to winners Crompton House – they beat Hulme Grammar in the final.
Eight schools took part and the pick of the Saddleworth players were Tom Whitehead, Charlie McManus and Gabriel Payne.
Saddleworth posted victories against Newman Academy and Royton and Crompton and suffered an 8-6 defeat to North Chadderton leaving them with a tougher semi-final against the eventual champions.