Simply the best – RL prospects excel to become North West champions

TOM Whitehead was named man of the match as Saddleworth School were crowned North West Under 16s rugby league champions.

Tom Whitehead

A double bid in the National U16s final narrowly ended in defeat but the finals still represented the school’s best ever overall result in a single season.

But the promising youngsters did the Uppermill school proud as head of rugby, Gary Melling agreed.

“It was a season we won’t forget in a hurry,” said Gary, delighted by an 18-4 victory over Wade Deacon of Widnes at Robin Park, Wigan.

Whitehead, who also plays for Saddleworth Rangers, the Warrington Wolves junior sides and the elite England U16s squad, proved the standout individual performer.

In the National U16s final Saddleworth fell short when beaten 30-16 by Outwood Grange School of Wakefield at the Post Office Road ground in Featherstone.

Tries by Whitehead, fellow England under-16s player Fenton Rogers and Josh Fitzgerald were not enough to deny their Yorkshire opponents.

U16s squad: Joel Cuniffe, Lewis Smethurst, Joshua Fitzgerald, Cameron Hough, Joseph Howe, Kian Hurst-Conroy, Jack Kenway, Benjamin Killan, Jack Knaggs, Ryan Lord, Sebastian Lowe, Charlie McManus, Evan Parry, Gabriel Payne, Adam Pilling, Bailey Pomfrey, Alexander Ratchford, Fenton Rogers, Bradley Ward, Thomas Whitehead, Mason Young, Jack Birtles.

The U15s also earned and enjoyed a finals double-up although they were beaten in both despite putting up brave displays.

Beamont School of Warrington beat them at Robin Park in the North-West final and Brooksbank School of Elland turned them over in the National final at Victory Park, Warrington.

This match was one of several age-group finals on the same day which were played as part of the Warners’ Champion School event. All games were screen on the Our League app.

To reach this final Saddleworth beat St John Fisher of Wigan 12-10 in the national semi-final.

U15s squad: Zach Eckerlsey, Ryan Hibbert, Jack Taylor, Will Dransfield, Andrew Bradley, Seb Eastwood, Tom Clark, Brad John, Sam Ratcliffe, Cameron Steventon, Harvey Wilson, Fin Ashton, Alfie Goslin, Dylan Turner, Jack Simfield, Vinny Fitzgerald and Fin Rogers.

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