ACCRINGTON Lions RLFC are beginning to roar.
The Under 16s were only introduced to rugby league this season - most having never played or watched the sport before - and entered Division Two of the North West Counties Under 16 League in September.
It was a slow start but, after chalking up their first win in November, they have now got back-to-back league victories and are looking to make a bigger impression.
"It has been so pleasing," said coach Anthony Foley. "They were a bunch of lads who had never played the game before. When you are introducing one or two new players, you can get through but these were all totally new to the game and each had to be trained individually for their respective positions and it has taken time."
In their first games of the season, the Lions lost 48-0 and 51-0. Then they started to find their feet. The first win came in November with a 14-10 victory but, in their last two games, they have won more convincingly 36-10 and 28-12.
"I think our best result was our last one - the 28-12 win against Leyland Warriors," said the coach. "It shows how we have turned things around. There has been such an improvement and it is great to see the look on the lads faces when they score a try.
"Our first team coach watched the Under 16s beat Leyland and he was impressed with how far they have come. He was pleasantly surprised."
Foley knew his team were getting there in a Lancashire Cup game against Folly Lane in October.
"Folly Lane are an experienced side who have played in the leagues for years. They also play in a league above us and are strong," said the coach. "We were still new to it all as it was only October and we had only been playing competitive league rugby for a month.
"Anyhow Folly Lane were leading 58-0 and then, in the last five minutes, we scored a try.
"They were still so far ahead but it was like we had won the game. There was whooping and shouting and the lads were ecstatic as it meant a lot to get a try against a team like that. For the lads, it showed how far they have come and that was a turning point."
The Lions are fifth in their division out of six sides but do hope they can move up the league as they learn more about the game and get more experience.
"It has been great to see people playing rugby league at junior level in Accrington," said Foley. "It is great to see the faces and how much they enjoy playing it."
The Lions captain is James Glasgow, who is one of three Accrington players who have had trials for Lancashire. Their top try scorer is Lee Wright with four - he got a hat-trick against Leyland. And the top points scorer is goal kicker Daniel Banks - he has got 34 and has converted 13 out of 18 attempts this season.
"In his first season, that is outstanding," added the coach.
The next stage is to set up an Under nine's side. There is a coach in place and now they are hoping that Year Four players will come forward and give rugby a go. Anyone interested can contact Anthony on 07817 577090.
And the club has been give £5,500 in grants to continue their work with the young rugby league players in the area.
Some of it will go on equipment but the majority will be to develop girls rugby. The coaches are going to visit schools and have taster sessions for the Year seven and eight girls.
- THE Under 16s have a big game in the National Cup tomorrow when they travel to East Leeds - their first match ever in this competition.
- THE first team are at Halton Simms Cross who are two places above Accrington in North West Counties Division Six.