MIKE McLoughlin has paid tribute to his team’s resilience ahead of an appearance in the Champion Schools finals day.

The year nine Beamont Collegiate Academy team are gearing up to feature in a national final for the first time after several near misses.

They will face reigning champions Castleford Academy, from Wakefield, in the fifth of seven deciders taking place on the afternoon and evening of Friday, July 5, at Warrington’s Victoria Park Stadium.

“We got to the semi-final stage in both year seven and year eight, so they were the nearly men,” said McLoughlin, coach of the team and teacher at the school for close to two decades.

“This was a really big target for the lads this year.

“We’ve been to finals in terms of the North West Counties trophy, which we lost in the final in year seven but won it in both year eight and nine.

“So I think the lads have the self belief now and they’ve shown a lot of resilience in the past 12 months.”

To typify his comments, the boys’ desire to keep pushing until the final whistle sounds earned them their place in the final, which is scheduled to start at 4.40pm.

“In the semi final we were 8-6 down in the last couple of minutes and then we scored a try with the last touch of the game,” said McLoughlin, the Warrington Guardian Schools Awards community champion winner in 2018.

“There’s great messages in that for the lads in terms of resilience. That was a super effort against Corpus Christi from Leeds, who are a strong, physical side and who made the final last year.

“It could have gone either way. At 6-6, they got a penalty and slotted that over.

“We were in the last set, put a little kick trough, chased, and the rest is history.”

Qualification to the national stages comes through progressing in the regional competition and the Beamont boys caught the eye as they defeated a Saddleworth side that was directed around the field by the son of Kevin Sinfield, the Leeds Rhinos and England legend.

“Saddleworth are a strong outfit but everything came together that day and we scored an emphatic win. I have to say I didn’t expect that, but that was some performance by the lads that day,” said McLoughlin.

In the last 16 of the Champion Schools Beamont overhauled Beverley outfit Longcroft School 56-0 before succeeding in a tough 24-14 battle against Barrow’s Furness Academy in Cumbria.

McLoughlin says there is no secret to the successful run his team are enjoying.

Warrington Guardian:

Mike McLoughlin, with his 2018 community champion prize from the Warrington Guardian Schools Awards

“It’s just lots of hard work,” he said.

“They train every week and we’ve put extra sessions on leading up to July 5.

“You don’t wave magic wands in this game. The game shows you up for your honesty, so you just have to roll your sleeves up and work hard. And they’ve done that this year.

“They’ve kept together for three years and they’re getting their rewards.”

Castleford Academy have been a dominant force on the age group and a huge task awaits the Beamont side in the final

“We know it’s going to be tough in the final,” said Mcoughlin.

“Over the three years Castleford have proven themselves to be the strongest schools side in the country.

“We’re very much treating it that it’s all about what you do on the day.

“If our boys put the hard work in and the stars are aligned, who knows, we can do it.

“I think last year when we had them in the semis they blew us away early on.

“I think the occasion got to them, so you just hope they’ve learned from the experience.

“We’ll physically work hard, but we work on the mental side as well just getting them prepared and being honest with themselves and being committed.

“We’ll certainly do ourselves justice, I’m sure.”

Supporters are welcome to attend the finals day and give Beamont a cheer.

“Hopefully there’ll be a good turnout of support for us,” said McLoughlin.

“It feels like a home game, whether that’s an advantage or not I’m not sure.

“But it’ll be great to have a good following.”

Champion Schools finals day, Victoria Park, Friday, July 5:

12.15pm: Champion Schools Year 7 Girls’ Final

1.15pm: Champion Schools Year 8 Girls’ Final

2.15pm: Champion Schools Year 8 Boys’ Final: Wade Deacon (Widnes) v St John Fisher (Wigan)

3.30pm: Champion Schools Year 9 Girls’ Final

4.40pm: Champion Schools Year 9 Boys’ Final: Castleford Academy (Castleford) V Beamont Collegiate Academy (Warrington)

5.50pm: Champion Schools Year 10 Girls’ Final

7pm: Champion Schools Year 10 Boys’ Final: The Brooksbank School (Calderdale) V Saddleworth (Oldham).