Kingston Park stadium was once again the setting for North East Rugby League Grand Finals day with a bumper crowd cheering on a range of clubs featuring in the day’s three finals. First up was the U12s Cup Final.
With the age group being a mix of U11s and U12s, the team is a mix of U12s who were part of last year’s victorious cup run and U11s, experiencing competitive rugby league for the first time.
Taking on Gateshead Storm, a sunny day meant both sides were going to have to work hard.
Despite the Rockets taking an early lead, the half time score of 14-4 to Cramlington meant the second half was an incredibly tense affair.
Both sides found more gaps in the second half and added to their respective tallies.
Gateshead Storm kept pushing the Rockets and were never more than two scores away but it was the Rockets that emerged on top with a 28-18 win.
“We are really proud of the whole group” said Chairman, Jeff Ball. “The players worked hard and everyone else created a really supportive match day environment.
Obviously winning any silverware is great but what means more to us is the way that the team has worked hard, especially overcoming a rough patch back in April, and really tried to play some good rugby league today.
Storm pushed us all the way and there is going to be a tremendous rivalry between these two teams in the coming years. That can only be a good thing for those involved and it just shows the quality coming through in the North East.”
Also on the same day, Gateshead Storm U14s were able to reverse the result with a 36-18 win to lift their respective cup.
And on Saturday, the Rockets’ U16s Black squad found themselves against an excellent Skirlaugh Bulls side who beat them to the Yorkshire Challenge Cup with a dominant 48-12 win.
Despite the scorelines, Ball was thrilled with the progress on show: “To have three teams in a final this weekend shows the quality we have across the club.
To look at the results doesn’t do anyone involved justice.
The U14s for example have now reached two finals this season, a complete turnaround from not winning a single game last year.
We have had plenty of teams over the years who are still developing at this point and have gone on to dominate their age group by the time they reach U16s, so it is an exciting couple of years ahead.”
Ball continued: “The U16s Black squad have been a real success too.
To go to Yorkshire, more than hold their own in the Premier Division, reach the quarter final of the National Cup and then reach this Final, it is absolutely unheard of for a North East side.
A lot of people have sat up and took notice of both us and the North East and the future is very bright for this group.”
Updated 14:09 - 23 Jul 2018 by Jeff Ball