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Samir Khabrouch hails ‘special group' as Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club’s Colts side retain Eastern Counties Under-18s Cup at Shelford





Samir Kharbouch hailed his Bury St Edmunds Colts side as ‘a special group' after they retained the Eastern Counties Under-18s Cup with a 20-17 victory away to Shelford.

Sunday’s battling display had seen the side which reached the quarter-finals of the RFU National Under-18s Cup this season, with some having been involved in the run to the semi-finals last year, come from behind three times to end their time together with silverware.

"It was a nail-biter and EC cup finals always are,” said Colts head coach Kharbouch, who is also a first XV player at the Haberden.

The Bury St Edmunds Colts squad and coaches after captain Josh Grigg-Pettitt (with trophy) lifted the Eastern Counties Under-18s Cup following a 20-17 victory at Shelford Picture: Beanstalk Media
The Bury St Edmunds Colts squad and coaches after captain Josh Grigg-Pettitt (with trophy) lifted the Eastern Counties Under-18s Cup following a 20-17 victory at Shelford Picture: Beanstalk Media

"We won last year 15-all (on tries scored at Cambridge) and I thought we were the better team but we didn't put the points on the board.

"This year I think was the same thing, we got held up over the line four times and every single time they got near our try-line they scored and fair play to them.

"It was quite frustrating as they didn't really put too much pressure on us and we concede.

Thomas Cornwall is held aloft with the Eastern Counties Under-18s Cup at Shelford Rugby Club Picture: Beanstalk Media
Thomas Cornwall is held aloft with the Eastern Counties Under-18s Cup at Shelford Rugby Club Picture: Beanstalk Media

"But that shows the sport that we're in and that's finals rugby for you. It's never pretty but the boys managed to grind it out and win.”

After falling behind to a controversial penalty try, the Josh Grigg-Pettitt-captained side trailed 7-5 at the break following the first of Vince La Starza’s two tries.

A George Howard penalty soon had them ahead but then they had to respond to conceding another try with Ben Nevison-Grainger’s converted score putting them 15-12 up.

An unconverted try saw them fall behind again before, with around five minutes to go, La Starza got over again down the wing with the five points proving enough for victory.

Bury St Edmunds Colts head coach Samir Kharbouch (centre) with some of his players and fellow coaches after they retained the Eastern Counties Under-18s Cup at Shelford Rugby Club Picture: Beanstalk Media
Bury St Edmunds Colts head coach Samir Kharbouch (centre) with some of his players and fellow coaches after they retained the Eastern Counties Under-18s Cup at Shelford Rugby Club Picture: Beanstalk Media

"The boys battled away and I couldn't have been prouder,” said Kharbouch.

"There's so many players I could list off, everyone did their job, that's for sure.

"I was a bit gutted that one of our lads Reuben Soorishian tore his achilles while celebrating a try on their 4G. He jumped up and when he came back down it just popped."

Some of the Bury St Edmunds Colts' winning Eastern Counties Under-18s Cup. (From right) Billy Reid, George Howard, Ben Nevison-Grainger, Connor Holdcroft, Jimmy Holdcroft Picture: Beanstalk Media
Some of the Bury St Edmunds Colts' winning Eastern Counties Under-18s Cup. (From right) Billy Reid, George Howard, Ben Nevison-Grainger, Connor Holdcroft, Jimmy Holdcroft Picture: Beanstalk Media

With around half of the team now set to move on, Kharbouch feels grateful to have helped them on their way and is looking forward to seeing what they can go on to achieve.

"It is a bit of a special group, I think we are the only team to go into the semis last year to then reach the quarter-finals the next year.

"I think my boys were really unlucky but I still think they're the best team in the country and I think they showed that through being able to win the Eastern Counties Cup two years in a row and able to make the semi-finals last year and quarter-finals this year.

"There's obviously not much in it when you get that near the top."

He added: "I'm really grateful I've managed to coach these boys for two years."

Wolfpack head into final game

Meanwhile, Kharbouch and his Wolfpack team-mates are set to end their National League 2 East campaign away to eighth-placed Old Albanians in St Albans on Saturday (3pm).

Jacob Ford’s side, who had last weekend off after returning to winning ways with a home-ending 56-24 victory against Guernsey, lie sixth in the table and would have to make up five points on either Tonbridge Juddians or Henley to match last season’s club record fifth-placed finish. They cannot finish lower than sixth.