Thurrock 4th team have made their 5th BL final in a row. The third time they did made history in the BL Leagues – and this is an incredible feat for what is primarily a Vets/Social team with a few youngsters to do their running for them.
The game was delayed for over an hour, as no referee had turned up. Eventually an Upper Clapton player agreed to referee the game.
Thurrock 4ths hit the ground running, taking the game to Wanstead II nds from the off, and it was only last gasp tackling and slightly wrong options by Thurrock that stopped the 4th team from scoring in the first 5 minutes. However, after the forwards battering the opposition line, Cotter opened the scoring with a well taken penalty from in front of the posts for an offside infringement. Thurrock were on their way!!
The backs were running and tackling well, especially Gola Jnr, Porter and Holding. However, the penalty galvanised Wanstead into action, and it was not long before their powerful forwards drove over from a line to score wide out. Once again, Thurrock’s pack was working well, taking most of the ball in the line out (via Brookes and Collins) and doing considerable damage in the scrum. From a long speculative kick by Cotter into the Wanstead 22, the resulting clearance from the line out was charged down by Dave Graham, who went over for a comfortable try, which was converted by Cotter. However, in a rare sorti into the Thurrock half, an offside infringement allowed Wanstead to score a penalty. Thurrock led just 8 – 10 at half time.
In the second half Thurrock began piling on the pressure, winning plenty of quick ball. It was from one of these rucks that Gola Jnr made an outside break, who then fed to Cotter at pace, who ghosted through the Wanstead defence to score under the posts. Cotter converted his own try. Still the game could go either way, but the sheer determination of Thurrock showed through.
From a short line out in the Wanstead 22, the forwards drove as well as they have done all season, which allowed scrum half Rhys Neill to dive over wide out. Thurrock now tasted victory and grew in confidence and settled into more relaxed rugby, still dominating the line out and the scrums. Some classic phases of rugby culminated in Cotter making a scintillating break, feeding to a rampaging Millsom at pace, quick ruck ball, which was fed to Sam Porter (returning from injury after several months out) to outstrip the Wanstead defence, to score the final killer blow that then put the game out of reach of Wanstead. Thurrock 4th team ran out very worthy winners
8 – 27. This puts Thurrock 4ths in the BL finals once again on Saturday 9th April at Southend.