RUGBY: Trowbridge RFC book Twickenham date
TROWBRIDGE RFC are on their way to Twickenham after a dramatic 19-17 victory over hosts Guildford in Saturday's RFU Intermediate Cup semi final.
Steve Ojomoh's men will run out at the home of English rugby on May 4 after defeating the London Two South West champions despite playing a large part of the second half with just 14 men.
The visitors soared into a 19-0 lead with tries from wing James Davies, number eight Shane Johnstone and full-back Jackson Szabo in eight first-half minutes, fly-half Lloyd Davis adding two conversions.
Guildford though, aided by their powerful driving maul, hit back with two tries from prop Mark Watkinson and replacement Ben Holden. Full-back Jarrod Adam landed conversion, but three other kicks were missed.
Trowbridge were left hanging on as first replacement Karl Perry was sin-binned before centre Joe Knight was red-carded by referee Luis Caviglia for an alleged kick.
The visitors held out superbly though to book a final appearance at Twickenham against Staffordshire Leek, who beat Aspatria 27-15 in the other semi final, on Sunday, May 4.
Guildford went into the contest having lost only one league match all season on the way to their title and got on the front foot from the first whistle.
The driving maul, which was to become a feature of the match, was in evident early on as the home side rumbled upfield. Inevitably, Trowbridge conceded a penalty but were reprieved when Adam missed a relatively simple shot at goal from in front of the posts 30 metres out.
Three minutes they were punish as Trowbridge struck with their first meaningful attack.
Guildford managed to clear their lines but the kick was poor and fielded by visiting full-back Szabo. His elusive running lines took him into the heart of the home defence and quick hands released winger Davies, who still had plenty to do.
He skirted around the outside and then chipped ahead before winning the race to the touchdown. Fly-half Davis missed the conversion from outside, but moments later, it got even better for the Wiltshire men.
Davies kicked to the corner and from the lineout, the forwards rumbled over the line for number eight Johnstone to get the scoring touch, Davis adding the extras.
If Guildford though that was the end of the storm, they were mistaken as Trowbridge, unbelievably, struck with a third try inside eight minutes.
Claiming a turnover 40 metres out, the ball was thrown wide to Szabo, who scooted under the posts untouched, David converting for a scarecely credible 19-0 lead.
And it could have got even better for the visitors as Szabo nearly conjured up one of the great tries. Fielding a poor kick 20 metres from his own line, the full-back cut a line through the Guildford defence on a mesmeric 80 metre run and looked certain to score, onlyfor a brilliant last-gasp tackle to force him into touch.
Still reeling, Guildford conjured up some late first-half pressure but botched two gilt-edged opportunities when fly-half Alex Vaughan dropped a pass with the line gaping before Szabo brilliantly cut down flanker James Roberts at the ankles less than ten metres out.
Eventually, the home side returned to their one true potnet weapon, as a rolling maul trundled up to the line, prop Watkinson getting the touch down.
Adam's kicking woes continued though as the conversion was missed and Trowbridge still turned around in control.
Guildford were by no means out of it though and piled on the pressure at the start of the second half.
Wing Ben Barrow was stopped after scooting up the touchline before Trowbridge replacement Karl Perry was sin-binned. The hosts made the most of their man advantage as the forwards ploughed forward agains at Watkinson scored his second in an almost identical manner to the first.
Sensing the danger, Trowbridge upped their efforts again and wing James MacFarlane just failed to get on the end of Davis' chip before replacement Tom Weaver was just wide with a well-struck long-range penalty.
As the tension ratcheted up, Adam cut a neat line to cross for the hosts, only for referee Luis Caviglia to pull play back for a forward pass.
Trowbridge rolled upfield, but were stung when Caviglia showed centre Knight a red card, apparently for a kick, leaving them down a man going into the latter stages.
Yet another pushover score, Holden touching the ball down, really startedthe nerves jangling but, crucially as it turned out, the conversion was missed.
Still Guildford pressed, spurning a kickable penalty to go to the corner in the hope of a pushover try. But Trowbridge bravely held firm and when Davis got his hands on the ball and booted it high out of play, the wild celebrations got under way.
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