Storm Ciara wasn’t even able to stop Thurrock T-Birds putting in one of their best performances of the league campaign.
AFTER the heartache of a refereeing blunder costing Thurrock top spot last time out at Old Albanians the T-Birds knew the opportunity to win a consecutive league title was out of their hands & they could only play their part and hope results went their way.
After an early sin bin for Blackheath Niketa Akintade opened the scoring with blistering pace leaving both the Blackheath fly half & winger in her path.
Despite a lot of possession Thurrock couldn’t add to the score line in a wet and sloppy first half, but impressively Thurrock kept Blackheath out even when down to 14 players due to a late yellow card for Debbie Walshe.
A great first half display was somehow trumped by the way Thurrock came out for the 2nd half, looking as though they forgot about the severe weather warnings as they turned on the flair.
Captain India Harvey was at the heart of everything positive for the visitors. Her break in the outside channel and link up play with centre partner Lizell Heather resulted in the T-Birds extending their league. Heather converting Harvey’s try.
Thurrock were not finished, as a delayed pass from Olivia Stembridge put India Harvey away again who inturn selflessly drew the full back and passed to Akintade for her 2nd of the day.
With just over an hour played Niketa Akintade completed her hat trick. Again a break from Harvey got Thurrock good field position, but some good graft with the pick and go game allowed Ami Parsad the quick ball she needed to put Akintade in the corner.
Blackheath knew their title hopes were over as they were outclassed in most areas by a dominant Thurrock performance. But the home side had the last say with a contender for try of the season. A cross field kick in gale force winds was collected by Lyndsay Whitley for a consolation try.
The game finished 22-5 to Thurrock which took the T-Birds back top but sadly it was only for a short period of time as Old Albanians clinched top spot.
Reflecting on the league season coach Andy Yarrow said ‘It is always sad when you are so close to winning a title but it slips through your fingers. But that being said this group of exceptional women have dug deep this season and come back when people wrote them off, our coaching staff couldn’t be prouder of their efforts & we know they will again set high expectations of winning back their crown next season!
We obviously hope to become a Tyrells Premiership Club next season based on the substained success over the past three seasons but feedback on the Championship will remain that the standard of refereeing & lack of touch judges / assistant referees is having a negative effect on a great league. I will not blame officials for finishing runners up we hold ourselves to account but if the RFU look at this it will make a great league even better.
We move forward now to the National Cup campaign. We have a trophy to defend & a reputation to uphold. The girls have already switched mindset and are ready for the challenge coming from the North!
I’d like to thank all the loyal supporters today who travelled despite the conditions, I hope you agree with me it was worth the journey for a fantastic T-Bird performance!
“We had a game plan today & the girls stuck to it perfectly. We willl now take this momentum forward into the National Cup. I’d like to wish Blackheath the best of luck it would be nice to meet them again in an all South final!”