MK Wolves U16s showed their senior counterparts a glimpse of the future by reaching the final of the inaugural 4-Counties Rugby League Tournament.
Wolves represented Buckinghamshire in the competition, taking on teams from Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Gloucestershire.
They went into the tournament full of confidence, having racked up 50 points in back-to-back matches against Hemel Stags prior to the event.
Their first opponents came in the shape of Hampshire. In a tight, physical game, Wolves won by 10-6 to start their campaign with a victory.
A strong performance in their second group match against Oxfordshire saw the boys run out eventual winners 16-6 with some very expansive and exciting rugby played that was not always rewarded with the points they deserved.
The victory saw them qualify for the final against the also unbeaten Gloucestershire.
Gloucestershire started the final with their tails up - they came racing out of the blocks, capitalising on early handling errors from Wolves as they racked up the points, taking a 16-0 lead in at half time.
At half time, Head Coach Gareth Edwards and assistant Ed Kilby rallied the boys - and the impact was instant as the players turned up their physicality and began to dominate the tackle areas and make good metres going close on a number of occasions only for the final pass to go awry.
Wolves restricted Gloucestershire to only one score in the second half with the final score of 20-0 not offering a full reflection on how close and hard fought the game was between the two sides.
Speaking afterwards, Edwards was full of pride and admiration for the efforts of his players over the course of the tournament.
He said: “The boys were fantastic today, a real credit to themselves and the badge, they tackled their hearts out and competed in every match.
“We lost a final to a side who were more experienced, and there is no shame in that. Considering this club is only two years old.
“The progress we have made and the potential of these youngsters means we have many bright days ahead of us.”
Ben Savage was nominated as Bucks’ man of the tournament after three all action performances, topping the tackle charts and making good metres in each game as he ran himself into the ground, inspiring his team mates into matching his intensity and physicality.
Wolves U16s will head into their next match against Leamington Spa with renewed confidence as they look to build upon their impressive performance in the four counties tournament.