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TROWBRIDGE AT TWICKENHAM: The day of their lives
ABOUT an hour and a half after the final whistle had blown, while the celebrations in Twickenham’s Spirit of Rugby room were in full swing, Trowbridge head coach Steve Ojomoh excused himself from proceedings.
“It was weird. After the game, when the (final) whistle went was fantastic, but after all the speeches, I just went and sat on the bus by myself for 40 minutes,’’ said the former Bath and England man.
“I was actually exhausted and just needed to switch off and take stock of what had happened.’’
You might think ‘taking stock’ would include a few well-earned drinks off the back of his club’s memorable journey through seven cup rounds and, finally, a gloriously successful afternoon at the home of English rugby.
Not in Ojomoh’s case.
“I drank water all Sunday,’’ he explained. “I just wanted to have clear memories of the whole day.
“I was so proud of what these guys have achieved. When I came to the club I asked the question, ‘could the club match my ambition?’
“Trowbridge is a town that reminds me of Gloucester (a former club of his playing days). If you give people something cheer about they will do.
“To get to the final, they beat five champions (in their respective areas) and now for them to give Wiltshire something of their own makes me really proud.’’
Earlier, as referee Luke Haskins blew the final whistle to start unbridled elation, those heroes were strewn across the Twickenham turf.
It was a final totally befitting its grand surroundings and entirely appropriate that the outcome was in doubt until those very final seconds – augmented by a cacophonous noise from the 2,000 or so Wiltshire supporters matched by their counterparts from Staffordshire.
This match simply had everything – a thriller from start to finish.
A fairytale ending? Well how about bulldozing prop Sean Jones, signing off the final match of his playing career with what turned out to be Trowbridge’s crucial third try.
Individual brilliance? You’d be hard pressed to beat the score by full-back Jackson Szabo, who ran fully 60 metres to score in the second half.
What about centre Joe Knight, who feared he might miss the final after being sent off in the semi-final, but returned from a two-week ban to tackle himself to a standstill in alongside Dan Smith and wings James McFarlane and James Davies?
Half-backs Lloyd Davis and Kyle Knight meanwhile, marshalled their men forward and Lee Fairclough and Dave Martin joined Jones for a supreme scrum effort, with the second row of skipper Matt Howard and Scott Williams.
The back row of Adam Sullivan, Barry Coombs and, in particular, Shane Johnstone, were in rampaging form, while the bench of Sam Edwards, Karl Parry, Mark Durant, Tom Coombs, Alan Chadwick, Ashley Chalk and Tom Weaver manned the barricades as Leek surged forward late on.
Gallant Leek were not with their heroes either, in fly-half and skipper Gary McDermott, rampaging back row Sokoniaia Narawa and dangerous full-back Samuel Hunt.
Davis landed the first blow with a penalty after 20 minutes, but as became the theme of the match though, Leek roared straight back and scored the opening try as hooker Luke Granger ploughed over.
McDermott missed the conversion and Trowbridge regained the initiative as the forwards rumbled up to the line and replacement Parry burrowed his way over. Davis added the extras.
Leek’s Thomas Sims dropped the ball with the line beckoning before wing James Floyd was scragged by Szabo in a threatening position.
But ten minutes into the second half, Trowbridge moved further ahead with a stunning score.
Szabo fielded a loose ball in midfield and set off on a meandering run, beating several opponents and breaking the final tackle before sensationally charging over the line.
Back came Leek once again as McDermott charged over from close range, before adding the conversion.
The tension only ratcheted up further heading into the final 20 minutes, although Trowbridge were handed a boost when Leek lock Edward Harrison was sin-binned for a tip tackle on Jones.
They took advantage as, after a series of drives close to the line, Jones barged his way over near the posts for a fairytale try, Davis adding the two points.
With a 10-point lead, Trowbridge looked in command but Leek’s Floyd scampered behind the posts, the conversion making it a three-point game again.
The final five minutes brought almost unbearable scenes of tension as Leek hammered away at the Trow-bridge line.
Trowbridge simply refused to wilt, though, and when Leek dropped the ball three metres out, Haskins’ whistle started the party.
Trowbridge: 15 Jackson Szabo, 14 James McFarlane, 13 Joe Knight, 12 Dan Smith, 11 James Davies, 10 Lloyd Davis, 9 Kyle Knight, 1 Lee Fairclough, 2 Dave Martin, 3 Sean Jones, 4 Matt Howard, 5 Scott Williams, 6 Adam Sullivan, 7 Barry Coombs, 8 Shane Johnstone.
Replacements: 16 Sam Edwards, 17 Karl Parry, 18 Mark Durant, 19 Tom Coombs, 20 Alan Chadwick, 21 Ashley Chalk, Tom Weaver.
Leek: 15 Samuel Hunt, 14 James Floyd, 13 Nicholas Palmer, 12 Liam McDermott, 11 Jack Newton-Taylor, 10 Gary McDermott (captain), 9 Ian Harris, 1 Tom Hine, 2 Luke Granger, 3 Robert Cheadle, 4 Edward Harrison, 5 Thomas Sims, 6 Luke Staton, 7 Adam Nettel, 8 Sokoniaia Narawa.
Replacements: 16 Luke Hardern, 17 James Wilson, 18 Andrew McFadden, 19 Daniel Needham, 20 Jason Wilson, 21 Shane Dicker, 22 Daniel Cooper.
Referee: Luke Haskins Assistant referees: Leo Burton & Glenn O’Hara.
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