THE dream became reality for Tynedale Panthers on Sunday when they became North of England champions.

The Corbridge-based club’s U18 team defeated West Park of St Helens 24-14 to win the North of England National Cup.

The memorable victory means the girls are now one of just four teams remaining in the overall national competition. It was a proud day for Tynedale, at Yarnbury in Yorkshire, where the club’s U15 also took part in their respective North of England final.

Sadly for the younger side, they lost to a very strong Sandal team from Wakefield. But after their defeat, the U15s cheered on their older clubmates to glory.

“It was a fantastic day for the club,” said coach Nick Oliver. “Both our sides were involved in cracking games, which were played to a very high standard.”

The U18 team had to work for their victory. West Park were first to score, and Tynedale had to be at their best to respond.

“West Park scored an amazing try and they looked very good,” said Oliver. “We got the next two ties and after that they really put us under a lot of pressure.

“We held out which is testament to the way our girls defended and worked hard as a team.”

The win over West Park was a considerable coup for Tynedale, for they had defeated Castleford, one of the best sides in the country, in the previous round.

“They really tried but they couldn’t break our line,” said Oliver, who was able to give all of the Panthers’ substitutes a run out in the second half.

“Our players tackled incredibly hard,” he added. “They did tremendously well.”

Lucy Thorpe scored two tries for the U18 side, while Maisie James and Tilly Prentice also registered.

Oliver was also full of praise for the U15 team, who went into Sunday’s match after a lengthy unbeaten run.

“It was going to take something special to beat us, and Sandal were very strong.

“Our U15s came up against a side which put enormous pressure on them. “Sandal’s line speed was phenomenal, and they had a lot of physicality.”

Despite the defeat, Oliver said the youngsters demonstrated that they could bounce back even stronger.

The U18s match in the national finals, in Leicester, has been scheduled to take place Sunday, April 5. However, the RFU has suspended all rugby activity due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

No announcement about the national finals has yet been made.