BRADFORD on Avon head coach Dave George had resigned himself to a league title ‘near-miss’ until his side produced an astonishing late burst to clinch the Dorset & Wilts One North crown.
A final afternoon of league drama was heightened even further by injury delays which meant Bradford’s match at Chippenham 2nd finished later than the other two matches involving championship contenders.
Trowbridge 2nd’s narrow 8-7 victory over Supermarine knocked both of those clubs out of the equation, but Minety’s bonus-point triumph at Melksham left them in pole position.
Heading deep into the final quarter at Chippenham, Bradford led by a solitary Dan Bright penalty but were a long way from scoring the four tries needed to claim the crown on points difference.
However, in an incredible final few minutes, Tom Arthur, Nick Abbott and Ben Sheppard all touched down before Ed Dawson crossed in the very last play of the game to send the title back to Ashley Lane.
George said: “I don’t know how we could have left it any later. Our game overran by quite a long way and although we didn’t know what was going on at Trowbridge, I knew the Minety score, as their captain Jack Ward had agreed to keep in touch.
“With ten minutes to go I thought it was all over and I turned around to some of the guys (on the touchline) and said ‘ah well, it’s been a good season anyway.
“Then we started scoring and the last one came with the last play of the game.’’
He added: “We were so short of time that Brighty was rushing back and taking drop-kicks for the conversions because we needed the tries.
“Then in the last play, we kicked through, their winger caught it and could have kicked it out to end the game, but he missed touch, Dan Tozer caught it and Ed Dawson went in unopposed. It was an amazing finish.’’
Bradford lost second row Sean Hammerton and prop Mark Carnie to popped shoulders but Bright’s penalty nosed them in front before the late drama.
Centre Tom Arthur took Dave Lamplough’s pass to score the first try, Bright converting, before midfield partner Nick Abbott scored and then sent wing Ben Sheppard in for the third.
Then, in the final act, Dawson scored to wrap up the title and promotion to Southern Counties South.
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