Saturday, September 30, 2023

Rugby: Game of the season as Thurrock defeat Rochford


Thurrock defeated Rochford in this exciting, top quality match as the home side gained a valuable losing bonus point but they also knew that result could be so different.

They outplayed their more illustrious opponents in many aspects of play and but for a slice of bad luck at the end could have obtained a well deserved victory. Make no mistake Thurrock are a very good and talented outfit which made the closeness of the result even more significant as Rochford stepped up and through all reports were even better than last week against much better opposition.

The home side made a confident start and despite early pressure Thurrock held out and came back through two Mike Stanley penalties to give them a 6 – 0 lead this calmed the Thurrock nerves and then increased that lead when winger Sam Boshell finished off a good piece of play to score a try and for Stanley to convert. It did seem ominous at this stage for Rochford but they edged Thurrock in the loose with vigour and aggression, which gave them a platform.

Just before half time Rochford got the breakthrough their efforts deserved when after some strong approach work near the Thurrock twenty metre line and quick ball found stand-off Dan Needham who dummied and slipped through the gap to score a wonderful individual try to reduce the deficit to 5 -13 at the break. The home team came out for the second half determined to keep the momentum going and in a space of a few minutes forced the visitors to give away penalties. Captain Tom Ashton took full advantage to kick three penalties to put his team in the lead at 14-13.

This however showed why Thurrock, are such a good side and why their scalp is high on everybody’s list. They are responded positively with a try through centre Ben Stanley after a great break from his brother Mike who then followed up with a try of his own has he chipped over the top and beat the cover defence to touch down wide of the posts, albeit both conversions just went wide of the posts he was without doubt Thurrock’s best player on the day and Thurrock now led 23-14 with less than 10 minutes to go.

It seemed the game was up now in spite of all Rochford’s gallant work but from a melee near the touchline on the right in Dan Bracknell sped the ball wide to the left and quick ball through hands saw George Chipper collect and power over the line for an excellent try.

Unfortunately after awarding it the referee noticed that the touch judge’s flag was up across the pitch and ruled no try and went back for the lineout. For many teams it would have had an adverse effect but the incident galvanised the home side and they attacked again and this time flanker Andy Baker crossed the line for a try which Ashton duly converted to close the gap to 2 points. Both sides threw everything into the final minutes and only some outstanding defence by Rochford kept Thurrock out and likewise the visitors had some nerve racking moments as well to hold on for a hard fought victory.

TEAM: Worster, Boshell, Ben Stanley, Mike Stanley, Farrell, Rudgeley (Gorman 61m) Cook, North, Murphy, Bevans-Royston (Rate 71m),Loka (Garth Tucker 51m) Cooper-Hicks, Flavin, Timson, Kyle Tucker


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