A GREAT WAY TO FINISH THE SEASON
Report by Graham Pratt
It was the best way to finish an otherwise disappointing season to become Essex Cup Champions especially against old rivals Romford in what was a very good hard and competitive game of rugby and a credit to both sides.
Rochford had a point to prove going into this match and they did just that as they took the game to their opponents from the start.
Only a few minutes into the match full back mark billings finished off a fine back move to outpace the defence for a touchdown and take his team into a 5-point lead.
Having gotten the taste he, once again, scored in a very similar manner and Matt Stewart kicked the extra two points to increase the lead to 12-0.
Romford had been caught out by the pace and aggression of their opponents but they responded well with a converted try of their own before scoring again when their stand-off broke through. The conversion was added and they found themselves in front.
Number eight Louis Warner, who had been having a good game, had to retire injured but Scott Horsburgh came on to boost the lineout.
The lineout was keenly fought where Greg Whight and Scott Horsburgh worked hard all afternoon. In the set scrummage Rochford always had the edge and often put Romford under a great deal of pressure denying them fast ball with scrum half Tom Pickering enjoying himself behind a pack going forward.
In the loose both teams used the driving maul to advantage but Rochford seemed to gain a little more from theirs as it has been a successful ploy for most of the season.
Shortly before the break flanker Tom Corbet went over for a well worked try which Stewart converted to regain the lead at 19-14.
Rochford increased their lead in an unusual way soon after when they were awarded a penalty kick which missed the far upright but dropped and bounced kindly for wing Matthew White who was following up at pace and he caught the ball and grounded for a terrific try.
Stewart once again converted and as the whistle for half time blew the Magnolia Road boys were 26-14 to the better.
Romford are a good side and they were not going to allow this high-profile match to slip away so easily as they stormed back in the second session and Rochford spent a good deal of time defending.
The pressure finally told as Gidea Park kicked over a penalty and then went over for a try. The game became a little fractious with some high and dubious tackles going in which helped Romford more and they took full advantage running in for a converted try and suddenly Rochford were behind 26 -29.
The lads needed to respond quickly otherwise as time started to run out they were in danger of seeing all their hard work slipping away.
This Rochford team have character and reached down into their reserves to launch some terrific forward play and drive up to the Romford line.
A number of scrums had Hundred pushing hard and the referee was left with no alternative but to award Rochford a penalty try for deliberate obstruction by the defensive team. Stewart converted to edge in front 33-29.
Just to rub salt into Romford’s wounds a late penalty allowed captain Stewart to kick the three points and give his side some deserved silverware as reward for a hard and difficult campaign.
It was good to see second row Max Bacon coming on and having a run out after long term injury and also Scott Turner who had returned to the team late in the second half of the season to show off his strength and power.
The celebrations then started with a vengeance and I must say I have not seen so many weird hair and facial get ups for a long time. All power to the whole squad and well done all of you as well as all supporters who turned up at Bancroft.