TROWBRIDGE skipper Matt Howard was “physically and mentally drained’’ by the final tension-filled minutes of Saturday’s final at Doric Park.

Howard’s men seemingly had the game wrapped up when they moved 20-6 ahead on the hour mark as replacement forward Mark Durant was driven over the line by his pack.

But Trowbridge still had to endure a nervy finale as Ivybridge fly-half Matt Grieveson’s boot chipped away at the lead, before the dominant home pack finally forced the crucial turnover which allowed them to start the celebrations.

Howard said: “Usually when you are playing you don’t really notice the tension that is around but, with such a big prize at stake, it was obvious lads were thinking ‘don’t let it be me who makes the big mistake’.

“I was absolutely drained at the end, physically and mentally.’’ He said: “For me, it was a joy to hear the crowd again. Against Bletchley (in the Southern Counties final earlier this month) was the first time I’d heard our home crowd going for it, but this was another level.

“At the end there was just a massive sense of achievement. It was a great occasion for the club.’’ The home side thoroughly deserved their triumph in front of a large phalanx of spectators, victory being built around a supreme forwards effort.

Ivybridge, through the precision boot of Grieveson, set up a grandstand finish as they ate into the lead but, despite possessing a potent-looking back line, the Trowbridge rearguard simply refused to yield.

Trowbridge had lock Alan Chadwick harshly sin-binned by referee Simon Walker for scragging galloping full-back Tom Scoles by the collar, but the hosts’ forward power was always much in evidence and they led 6-3 at half time.

The try the home side craved arrived 12 minutes into the second period as Howard expertly clawed in a lineout throw and sent substitute back row Shane Johnstone charging towards the line. The big man was held up but slipped the ball back to Howard, who forced his way over.

The home side appeared to have wrapped up the win on the hour mark as Ivybridge erred on their own lineout throw near their own line and the pack drove Durant over.

Davis added the extras for a 14-point lead and, despite Grieveson’s boot, the home side held on.