It was another away day festival for the Under 10s (Celts) and with such a large squad, we try to ensure all players get equal opportunity over the season to attend festivals.

It is a huge commitment from the parents and it is most appreciated.

Havant was the venue this Sunday on what was the coldest day of the season with -2 being registered on the dashboard. Thankfully the sun was up nice and clear and the frost had gone by the time we arrived but it was still very chilly!!

Normal festival format for the pool games except there would only be play-offs for the top 2 from each group. We drew a tough group with Alton, New Milton, Portsmouth and Havant.

Celts were a man down going into game #1 v Portsmouth but they started well. Captain Joshua Fernandes on his birthday led the team well.

A tight first few minutes of Portsmouth possession was finally unlocked by Charlie Fisher overturning a ruck which opened up for Owen Williams to score with a blistering run down the line.

It seemed to be the cue for all out attack and Celts were firing on all cylinders! Another full length try from Owen Williams before my Player of the Day Aidan Bones ripped the ball from the largest player on the pitch, jinked through 4 defenders to burst through for a 30m try stunning the opposition! What a start and we had not even got to half time.

Our defence was solid and our rucking confident. Jack Harrison made a try saving tackle to keep a clean sheet. Aidan Bones had his sights on the line once more and burst through again for his second! Certainly no indication he'd stayed up late watching his beloved Ireland - maybe it had spurred him on?! Second half tries from Charlie Fisher and Oliver Smith rounded off a superb team effort - one of the best displays I've seen all year! Portsmouth did sneak a try with the last play of the game to finish the game 6-1 to Celts.

Next up were New Milton who are technically very good and a team we have recently started to get to grips with. Captain Jack Harrison won the toss and elected to start, passed the ball to Oliver Smith who immediately broke the line at full tilt to go over for the opening try. Celts picked up where they left off against Portsmouth with solid defending and good rucking. Harry Cromie made a try saving tackle in his first festival to make his mark on the team performance; well done Harry!

It looked like it was going to be a tough game but William Breeze finally managed to find some space, stepped on the gas and dived over for a 2-0 lead at HT. Harrison

Bennett had arrived straight from Gosport to provide reinforcements and came on at HT. Passed the ball after the first turnover, he showed the New Milton defence his heels and darted over in the corner; what an introduction!

Another great gut busting try from Oliver Smith and one from Charlie Fisher coupled with amazing defending from George Popplewell and Henry Moran in particular gave the Celts a comfortable 5-0 victory.

Havant are a big and fast team and were buoyed by the home crowd but the Celts were in confident mood going into game #3.

It was set up to be a cracker and probably a decider for who would play in the play-offs. With some huge crashing runs into the Celts defence Havant were throwing everything at us.

Celts remained firm and Owen Williams took his opportunity once more to stretch his legs and run 3/4 of the pitch to score the opening try. Well done Owen, 3 tries in 3 games showing you have attacking threat as well as one of the best tackles in the team. Captain Henry Hughes drove the Havant defence backwards with some thundering charges, Joshua Fernandes jinked his way through but we struggled to find the cutting edge against a very good defence.

There are fine margins of error in games like this one and Celts paid the price for losing the ball in the opposition half and couldn't prevent a breakaway try from Havant to even the scores. The second half was much the same and whilst Austin Tavener and Harry Cromie were screaming for the ball out wide the Celts could not get the ball out fast enough; the Havant rush defence was persistent and Celts could not find the space they'd enjoyed earlier. The game ended 1-1 and was probably a fair result.

Alton were up last for the Celts final pool opposition and they came out like a rocket! The Celts defence was on the back foot against some excellent attacking formations of Alton.

Before Celts had a chance to regroup they were 2-0 down with Harrison Bennett being stopped on the line before scoring a certain try. Tremendous defence from Oliver Smith once more helped the Celts get back into the game before half time and Harrison Bennett made it over to make it 2-1. Alton have proved a difficult opposition for Celts this last year and although our defence was awesome we could not keep them out for one more try. Final score 3-1 to Alton.

Our superb opening games meant we pipped Havant to second in the group on goal difference to make the play-offs! Go Celts!

Our 3rd/4th place play off was against Farnham who I had refereed earlier and noted they would be a tough test for any team.

The gas had gone from the Celts tanks unfortunately and they went down 3-0 after a determined and courageous performance. Injuries were starting to crop up as tiredness affected technique and discipline - they had given everything and the parents and coaches could see what a great prospect this team is. With such large numbers we are always going to struggle to satisfy everyone but it is clear to see that in a few years time we will really benefit from all these tough away days. A bright future!

All in all another superb team performance to make all the coaches and parents proud; it really is great following these players through their development from playing tag rugby just 1.5 seasons ago.

Thanks to our sponsors Solent Fire Protection Services. These Festivals must be funded by team funds so thanks must go to all the sponsorship and fundraising out there including Jamies Famous Sausages!

Please keep an eye out for fixtures next week as due to low numbers of availability we may all travel to Andover for a session with them.

Thanks also for their support from Harry and Neil on the coaching side and Caitlin for dealing with all the dramas and injuries!!

And well done Boys!!!

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