Leek miss out in thrilling Intermediate Cup Final
LEEK miss out in thrilling Intermediate Cup Final at Twickenham.
TROWBRIDGE withstood a fierce fight-back from Leek to secure a 22-19 victory and lift the RFU Intermediate Cup after a nail-biting contest.
The Wiltshire side established a 10-point lead with less than 10 minutes to go but determined Leek closed the gap with a converted try and were pushing heavily for what would have been a winning score when the final whistle sounded.
Trowbridge captain Matthew Howard said: “The last five minutes 50/50 whether we would get there, but we always believed in our defence and we got the crucial turnover to see it out.
“Leek were fantastic today – every time we scored, they came straight back and when they got a yellow card to go down to 14, it actually galvanized their team.
“For any amateur, to run out at Twickenham is a once in a lifetime opportunity and today has been incredible.”
Leek dominated territory in the opening exchanges and could have opened the scoring on 11 minutes, but Gary McDermott hooked his penalty wide.
The Staffordshire club continued to press, but failed to find a breakthrough and Trowbridge’s David Davis put his team ahead against the run of play with a simple tee-shot.
Leek’s response was swift, and powerful hooker Luke Granger peeled off the back of a lineout to sneak over almost unnoticed for five points.
The lead was only short-lived, however, as Trowbridge replacement Karl Parry barreled over from close-range for a score that Davis converted.
Referee Luke Haskins then denied Leek a try for a knock-on over the line, before Trowbridge fullback Jackson Szabo’s outstanding individual effort from inside his own half increased the deficit to 10 points shortly after the restart.
Captain McDermott sliced through the opposition defence and added the extras to keep Leek in touch, but their cause was hampered when Haskins sin-binned Ed Harrison for a tip-tackle.
When prop Sean Jones touched down and Davis converted 14 minutes from time, Trowbridge appeared to have wrapped up the result.
But Leek, with Harrison back on the field, battled gallantly and wing James Floyd exploited a gaping hole in the defensive line to leave McDermott with a routine conversion and set up a grandstand finish.
The Midlands Two West (North) champions had all the momentum and exerted immense pressure in the dying moments.
Granger was called held-up and the resultant scrum was reset as it marched forward, but that was as close as Leek came and Trowbridge emerged victorious.
Leek skipper Gary McDermott said: “It was special: everything from the changing rooms to seeing all the supporters from Leek and from Trowbridge as well.
“We didn’t get the result but, to a man, we gave it everything. Right at the end we thought we were going to sneak it but it wasn’t to be, and I think we can be proud, both of the way we played and the way we conducted ourselves.”
Trowbridge: Tries: Parry, Szabo, Jones. Conversions: Davis (2). Penalties: Davis.
Leek: Tries: Granger, McDermott, Floyd. Conversions: McDermott (2)