HEXHAM Middle School is celebrating a double success after its year 7 boys and girls rugby league teams won a regional competition.

The school embraced the sport after local coach Derek Toddhunter introduced sessions in September last year.

With a strategic and competitive training programme in place, the two 7 seven rugby teams were relishing the opportunity of competing against other North-East schools after entering the Newcastle Thunder Cup in April.

Entering the knock-out phase of the competition, the boys team travelled down to Durham to play a tough quarter-final match. In an extremely close contest, the Hexham Middle School boys came out victorious after a string of well-worked tries.

Following on from their peers success, the girls team started brightly in their quarter-final, and their tenacity and tough tackling allowed them to win the ball back in good positions to come out victorious.

Progressing to the semi-finals, the girls faced an away trip to North Tyneside. In what was a great spectacle for the sport from both teams, the game was tied until 40 seconds before the end. A clever kick and chase saw Hexham to victory with a dramatic try in the last minute.

The boys team played the next day and were eager to join their peers at finals day. In a game where everything worked in both attack and defence, the boys were victorious, producing an impressive performance.

Despite strong team spirit through to the final, an unfortunate clash with the school’s France trip saw 11 of the 18 students involved in the semi-finals away for finals day. As a result, the remaining players rallied around their peers and new students, some with no rugby experience, stepped in to represent their school.

In a bid to improve their skills and knowledge of the game, the pupils trained heavily in the week leading up to the final. On finals day, it was the girls’ team which was first in action, hoping to win the Newcastle Thunder Girls Plate competition. However an injury in the warm-up saw a key player ruled out of the contest. Determined not to let the setback hamper the team’s spirit, the girls defended resolutely in the early stages.

After withstanding early attacking pressure, the Hexham team grew in confidence and scored the first try to gain a foothold in the match. With astute defending and smart attacking play, Hexham were soon able to add a second.

A third try soon followed and left Hexham with a healthy lead at the break. Smart play from the opposing team pushed Hexham back but two late tries sealed a 24-12 victory in the Newcastle Thunder Girls Plate competition.

After watching the girls’ success, the boys team were fired up for their final. Despite conceding an early try, and under immense pressure, the boys attacked with pace and a purpose to score two tries in quick succession. Hexham’s rekindled efforts saw both teams go into the break level.

A hattrick from Hexham’s full back in the second half put the team in the driving seat and saw Hexham boys win 24-16 to become Newcastle Thunder Boys Plate Champions.

PE teacher, Karl Barry, said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to every single player who has played in any match or training.

“Your work rate, attitude and commitment to your school is outstanding.”