- Results cannot camouflage shortcomings
- Cheshire looking to step up a gear
Photo: RFU Archive
With the scalps of heavyweights like Yorkshire, Gloucestershire and Kent already under their belts this season, Cheshire could be forgiven for thinking that more of the same will be enough to take the National Under 20 Championship title when they meet Berkshire at Twickenham on Saturday (May 4, KO 5pm).
But coach Giles Heagerty has made it clear to his team that unless there is a significant improvement in performance, hopes of a Twickenham treat are unlikely to be fulfilled.
“Despite getting the right results, in our last two matches were have only played for 40 minutes of the 160 and we definitely need to step up a level and put in a proper performance this weekend.” said the Manchester Grammar School teacher. “We’re not playing as well as we are capable of and when you look at the results Berkshire have been producing, it’s clear that we need to improve if we are to have any chance.
“We haven’t made any changes to our preparations for the game – we had a run-out at Burnage again, as we have for previous games, and it was good to get together and have a chat.
“We need to keep our feet firmly on the ground because we haven’t won anything yet. It was a great achievement to come back from 17-0 down against Kent, but we all know that we will go into the game against Berkshire as underdogs needing a big performance.
“Where we’ve been fortunate this year is that every time we’ve had an injury, someone else has stepped up and filled the role. We’ve had a very strong bench and that made a huge difference against Gloucestershire and Kent and hopefully it will make a big difference on Saturday.
“What that has shown to the boys is that this is not a 15-man game – it really is about the full squad of 25 or 26 because everybody has a part to play whether they are on the field or off it. That has been the biggest change that I’ve seen in Cheshire rugby this year because everyone has bought into it.
“We’ve had our disappointments as players on the way – a few thought they had put their hands up for North recognition and didn’t get it – but they’ve kept going and pushed on and on Saturday they will get their reward.”
Cheshire last won the Under 20 competition at Twickenham in 2005, when Alex Davies, now at London Welsh, was in the team and he will be visiting the team hotel in Shepperton on Friday night to have a chat with the players.
Matthew Van Sertima, a wingman from Caldy and Matthew Geiger, a Manchester Grammar School student who has played scrum half for Cheshire Under 18s, have been added to the squad to cover for a couple of knocks which need to be sorted out.
Otherwise, the squad will be the same as that which accounted for Kent via a major second-half fightback which turned round a 17-0 half-time deficit.