David Clegg Reports The Opinions Of U19s Head Coach, Garreth Carvell, Ahead Of Their Final Match Of The Season At Wakefield
On the back of last week’s most impressive victory over Leeds Rhinos, at Headingley, it was a well-satisfied Garreth Carvell, Head Coach to the U19s, who reflected upon his side’s performance when we met for our weekly chat.  Typically, it was his delight for his players, which held sway from the start.
“I was really pleased for the boys,” he enthused, “because that performance has been building over a few weeks.  It’s just that, in the previous matches, we haven’t executed quite as effectively on certain plays, as was necessary.  Just odd lapses in concentration, or individual errors have cost us a couple of games.
“This time everything went just right.  Our completion rate was the highest of the season, and it paid off, with us having much less defending to do, and that meant we had more energy for our attack.  Confidence and self-belief have been growing, and now, when things do go right, we are a strong team.
”The lads have also become mentally tougher in the manner of their performance, and are sticking to the game plan.  The whole squad have the right attitude and really want to improve.”
With the team as a whole playing so well, last week it was noticeable how individual performances stood out.  Great as it was to see our two wingers, Jack Thompson and Brad Whelan, both outpacing the Rhinos’ three-quarters, to see a prop forward doing exactly the same thing, over 40m, was most remarkable. Yet that was only a part of the contribution of young Brad Storey, throughout his time on field.
“Brad has been quite outstanding during this back end of the season,” Garreth confirms.  “He had been having difficulty getting into the side, but worked really hard in training, both in the gym and on field, to put himself in contention.
“Since gaining selection he has grown in confidence, and he has repaid our trust in him with his quite colossal efforts off the ball, such as supporting team-mates on a break, and then happily taking care of the next carry forward.
“The improvement in his play, over the last few weeks, has been great; he is constantly working, and he has shown that he can play strictly to a game plan.”
Second rower, Lewis Brown, is another who has caught Garreth’s eye with his performances over recent weeks.
“Lewis is only a first year, but has been doing really well,” he maintains.  “He is a rough, tough Cumbrian, who never shirks anything, and has made a real impact for us.”
Prop, Nathan Reidy, another of our first years, has also impressed his coach, but unfortunately has not been able to feature in the more recent games owing to injury.
Friday’s visit to Wakefield gives them all the opportunity to finish the season off in style.  The two teams have already met at Belle Vue, earlier in the season in what was the Wildcats’ home fixture, when the Red Devils overturned a half time deficit, with two tries in the final five minutes – something which will certainly have rankled among our hosts.
Our return there for this, our scheduled home fixture, comes as a result of the U19s’ pitch still being unavailable, and once again, Garreth refers to his players having to ensure that their own performance is up to scratch and that they stick to their game plan.
“Hopefully, they will now realise what works for them, and that if they hold onto the ball the result will come,” he insists.  “After last week their confidence will be sky high, and they need to channel that into a repeat performance.”
Being the last game of the season, Garreth might have been expected to ensure that all his senior players would have this last opportunity of playing together, but after such an exceptional performance, last week, he believes that all of those players deserve strong consideration again, for this match.
In the event, circumstances have dictated the decision, with first, winner of both Players’ Player, and Coaches’ Player of the Season, being unavailable owing to the fixture having been originally scheduled for two weeks earlier.  Similarly, a second of our third years, Chris Worrell, having played despite an injury over several weeks, has now had to take account of it, and give it time to heal.
On the positive side of things, he will have the services of scrum half, Lewis Fairhurst, who has made a considerable impact with us since joining us from the St Helens Academy.
“Lewis was struggling for game time at St Helens, but has been absolutely outstanding for us over the season.  Simply as a result of playing every week, he has grown in confidence to become a really good player.  He is certainly one to watch out for in the future,” Garreth predicts.
“Now we just want to take advantage of this final match.  They have proved that they can do it, so, with having got their minds around everything last week, nothing much will change for this one.  After all the doubts of the last two or three weeks, we are out to finish off the season properly.  Certainly, the lads can all be really proud of themselves for the season as a whole.”
Referee – Mr C Smith
Touch Judges – C Kelly, A Gill
Venue:  Belle Vue Stadium                          KO : 7pm