Thurrock were playing top of the League, champions elect, East London 2nds. Indeed, a win would give them the League title, so Thurrock were certainly up against it. It did not help that several key Thurrock players had to cry off the day before and on the match day morning.
Thurrock won the toss and skipper Dave Graham elected to play up the small slope and against the wind. For the first 25 minutes the game was even, with Thurrock coming closer to scoring than East London. Thurrock’s powerful forwards were winning the battle and scrum half debutante, kiwi Linlcoln Rawles, marshalld them well. So it was totally against the run of play when East London scored what seemed an easy try down Thurrock’s left wing virtually unopposed. This again stirred Thurrock’s game and only several errors in handling stopped Thurrock from scoring. However, Thurrock’s over commitment at a ruck and previous tackles leaving several players on the floor, left too much room outside and this led to East London capitalising on this to score wide out. Thurrock turned round 0 – 12 down, but with all to play for.
The second half saw many individuals take the ball into close contact and Thurrock’s momentum began to build in earnest, though East London always looked dangerous when their young backs had the ball. From a central scrum, newly returned Tony Wilkins burst through the centre to score under the posts. Wilkins has scored in all 3 games he has played in this season, after returning from a bad injury. This was converted by Whyman. Unfortunately, and against the play, East London broke out of their own 22 and went down their left flank, interpassing between their good back division, to score wide out. Thurrock again took up the gauntlet and their forwards started to pick up the pace. Line outs were dominated by Liam Walsh and Frank Monk and it was from one line out catch and drive that back row Phil Brookes, freshly returned from a 6 month cruise holiday, managed to crash over from close in. Whyman converted, to leave the score 14 -17, with 5 minutes to go. Thurrock battered East London, but unfortunately for Thurrock, their defence held out and this was the final score. East London ran out winners 14 – 17 and this also secured the win they needed to earn them the League Championship. Man of the match was Liam Walsh, who nearly led the forwards to glory.
In the past 3 weeks, Thurrock 4th team have played the top 3 teams in the league and have been beaten by no more than a handful of points. This has been quite a baptism of fire for some of the youngsters who have started their senior rugby with the 4th team and is also testament to the fighting spirit that still abounds within the team. With one League game to go against Old Brentwoods next week, win or lose, Thurrock should progress to the BL League plate semi-finals.