HAVING qualified for the play-offs in their final league match against Chingford, in-form Thurrock travelled to league leaders Brentwood for the semi-final and what was expected to be a tough competition. What actually followed was a master class in rugby from Tees.
With Tees forward dominance in every facet of play, Brentwood were simply denied any real possession and their speedy backline were snuffed out at every opportunity, with ferocious tackling led by outside half Ben Madden, with centres Rick Love and Damian Burns. With Tees formidable front row of Keefe, Keefe Junior and Billy Smith, the opposition scrums were swept aside and with the power and pace of Locks Karl Warren and Reece Cunningham, the combination was perfect for turnover ball. However, the back row of Lee Herrington, Dan Kemp and Paul McCarthy was simply sublime, resulting in six tries between them. From every set piece, Tees played running rugby and, with Scrum Half Aaron Burns’ fine passing, spun the ball to their young speedsters Alistair McDonald, Fraser Kidd and Adam Towler out wide, with the latter adding a superb try of his own.
The second half was much of the same, although the home side did manage to win a lineout and rumble over the line for a consolation try, but this was immediately countered with a sublime effort from Hooker Keefe who collected from a ruck and sprinted up the blindside to sneak over the line.
With Thurrock dominant, replacements Ant Pease and Rob Scott came on and immediately made their presence known with a push over try from a five metre scrum. With Madden adding a stunning try of his own, try of the match must go to Paul McCarthy who picked the ball up from a ruck and found himself in open ground and some forty metres to sprint, which he duly did, with three defenders hanging off him, to crash over for a well deserved try, much to the joy of the Tees support, which included many of the fourth team who had come along to add their voice. Conversions: Aaron Burns (2) and Ben Madden (2). Other replacements: Andy Brody, Kaz Pehlivan.