T-Birds triumph as they win the championship!
Date posted: 25-04-2012
On Sunday, following their topping of Championship One South, the Thurrock T-Birds won the Championship Cup and became the first Essex Rugby side of either sex to achieve promotion to the Premiership.
Scoring three tries in the 10 minutes either side of half time, Ts looked to have the game won, but Camp Hill, winners of Championship One North, hit back with 2 trys of their own to set up a nail biting last 20 minutes.
Trailing to an early penalty, Ts were unusually under huge pressure from a dominant Camp Hill scrum and the usually dangerous backline forced to live off scraps of possession. With a Thurrock flanker in the bin, Camp Hill set up shop on the T’s try line but just could not break through the usual dogged defence as tackle after tackle went in.
Restored to their full complement and the line out working well, Ts applied their own period of pressure as Half Time approached. With England 7s and U20 starlet Emily Scott pulling the strings at Fly Half and sending the defence every which way, India Harvey cut back against the grain of the defence to score just wide of the posts, Scott added the extras and Ts were in the lead.
T’s attacked straight from the kick off, fine work from the pack getting almost to the line, only to turn the ball over in contact but as Camp Hill tried to run the ball great pressure from the T’s defence caused a dropped ball which Scott pounced on for an easy run in. Her own conversion unfortunately bounced back off the post, but Ts were in the lead 12-3 at half time.
Now playing down the not inconsiderable slope and desperate for points, Camp Hill pressed from the kick off, but failed to turn pressure into points and once again Scott pounced on a dropped pass. Chasing her own kick she was beaten to the ball, but as the T-Birds arrived in numbers the ball was quickly won and T-Birds stalwart Katie Fenn crashed over the line. Scott added the extras for Ts to lead 19-3, the game looked won and the Ts visibly relaxed..
Camp Hill had other ideas and attacked with all guns blazing. Finally T’s scramble defence was outflanked from a quick tap penalty 5 meters out and Camp Hill were over the line and back in the game.
Straight from the kick off they attacked again, and with T’s dropping off tackles for the first time in the game gaps appeared in the T’s defence and Camp Hill ran through them to score a second try.
Now with the score at 19-15 and on the back foot, the T-Birds had to front up or spend another season in the Championship.
Waiting for the conversion, Captain Mercedes Foy gave a team talk that blistered the paint off the posts and Ts set about the last 20 minutes in a mood of grim determination.
Back up to 100% Ts pushed Camp Hill back to their line and pressed and pressed for the decisive score. With Ts stopped by desperate tackles and held up over the line, a Camp Hill player finally killed the ball to stop an almost certain try and went to the bin.
Despite the numerical advantage Ts just could not get over the line, desperate tackles keeping them at bay, but neither could Camp Hill get out of their own 22.
Back up to strength but with the clock ticking down a, series of penalties let Camp Hill finally reach the half way line but the T’s defence held firm and a knock on finally ended this thriller of a game and sent the T-Birds to Premiership Rugby..
With a record of 4 League Titles and 3 promotions in 5 seasons, the T-Birds have become a force to be reckoned with in Women’s Rugby and are now one of the top 8 sides in the country.
The T-Birds players and coaches would like to thank all their travelling supporters who turned the neutral Old Northamptonian’s ground into a copy of Oakfield.
They would also like to thank the Committee of Thurrock RFC and their Sponsors for the financial support that has enabled the ladies to reach the Top Level.
Next Season in a truly National League, with travel around the Country to places as far flung as Bristol and Darlington the financial demands will grow, so the T-Birds are seeking further sponsorship.