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Touch youngsters finish ahead of the hosts at Junior Touch Championship

Guernsey finished ahead of the host nation at the recent Junior Touch Championship in Holland.

The island was one of nine different nations taking part in the three day tournament with Guernsey, which was made up of 13 players aged between 13 and 17, being one of eight teams competing in the under 18 competition.

‘The tournament was established two years ago to give under 18 players the opportunity to represent their country and play competitive touch against their peers. It was a great three days, the team equipped themselves well and put in a strong performance,’ said Guernsey Touch chair Ollie Ward, who travelled to Arnhem near Amsterdam with the team.

‘The home nations are incredibly strong in every age group and it’s no exception at junior level. They all have very established, and well-funded, development programmes and that showed.’

On day 1, Guernsey, with Ben Holland as captain and Annie Paul as vice-captain, took on Middle East Touch and Wales. The Middle East team took the lead but Annie Paul evened the score line before Middle East took the lead before half-time. In the second half, Middle East Touch pulled ahead scoring three touchdowns before Holland scored for Guernsey. One more from Middle East Touch gave them a 6 – 2 win. The game also saw Etienne Le Vallee pull up injured and ruled out until the last games on Sunday.

Wales proved tough competition finishing the first half 6 – 1 with Guernsey’s only touchdown coming from Jacques Le Vallee. In the second half Wales eased to a comfortable 10 – 1 lead before a touchdown from Danni King. Wales replied with their 11th and then Holland added a consolation touchdown for Guernsey with the game finishing 11 – 3.

Saturday was the tough day with four games. In the first game England put seven past the greens who couldn’t break through the English defence. The second game was a much more even game against Ireland. The Irish youngsters proved the stronger in the first half which ended 3 – 0 but Guernsey came out firing in the second half scoring two touchdowns courtesy of Holland and Harry Burns. Ireland scored one more and won 4 -2.

The third game of the day gave Guernsey their first win over the hosts. Holland took the lead but then touchdowns from Burns, Rihoy and Jacques Le Vallee saw the first half end in a narrow 3 – 2 lead. In the second half, the score line bounced around reaching 5 – 4 to Guernsey through touchdowns from Tom Teasdale and Holland. The greens kept their composure and finished the game strongly scoring three more to finish the game 8 – 4.

An injury picked up in the game against the Dutch forced Burns, who has played at senior level for Guernsey since 2014, to the sideline taking some much-needed experience from the mids in the game against France. Guernsey could only break through once with the French taking a comfortable 11 – 1 win.

On the last day, Guernsey had its final round robin game against Scotland who scored first. Guernsey replied through an opportunistic score with Teasdale setting up Rihoy with a back hand pass. The Scots then added five more to finish the first half 6 – 1. The greens scored first in the second half with Scotland answering with their seventh before another for Guernsey from Holland. But three more from Scotland saw the game end 10 – 3.

Having finished the round robin stage in seventh, Guernsey then went through to a ranking game and faced the hosts for the second time. Burns scored before the Dutch evened it up and a second from Burns was followed by one from Teasdale. Burns made it to a hat-trick before half-time with Teasdale adding the fifth to finish the first half 5 – 3. The Dutch scored twice in the second half with Holland adding to the Guernsey tally to give them a 6 – 4 win and seventh place.

Tom Teasdale was awarded with the Most Valued Player award for the Guernsey team.

‘We are already looking forward to 2017 and will be taking a youth team to the event which is being held in Dublin. The success of the tournament wouldn’t have been possible without the financial support of KPMG, the dedication of coaches Tristan Boscher and Steve Teasdale, and the help of the team managers Debbie Paul and Cat Teasdale,’ said Ollie.

The Guernsey team is Annie Paul, Macy Cortez, Danni King, Cara Fitzpatrick, Lydia Batchelor, Lara-May Langlois, Etienne Le Vallee, Jacque Le Vallee, Tom Rihoy, Ben Holland, Harry Burns, Tom Teasdale and Harry King.