“This was the 1st Cup final for Finchley since 1988 when Finchley’s Forwards coach Bob Herron played in the team that won the league and cup double that year.”
The sun shone at Summers Lane as Finchley welcomed Epping and Upper Clapton to contest the 2016 Middlesex Bowl Cup final. This was the 1st Cup final for Finchley since 1988 when Finchley’s Forwards coach Bob Herron played in the team that won the league and cup double that year.
Finchley’s 22 man squad boasted 14 players who had come through the vibrant mini/youth system over the last decade, including Head Coach James Clarke. The Epping and UC side riding high in London North East 3 league brought a huge pack of forwards that were to test the Finchley team for the full 80 minutes.
The game started with Epping dominating possession deep into the Finchley half and it was no surprise that the Epping’s giant No8 Tim Matthew’s broke off the back of attacking scrum and breaking two tackles made 20 metres before being held up, quickly recycling the ball, Epping moved it out to the wing and then back inside to Tim who crashed over the line from 5 metres which was duly converted.
Finchley came back into the game with some strong work from its mobile backrow and were awarded a penalty and from the resulting 5 metre lineout, Manny Tobin delivered the ball to the front of the line-out, receiving the pass back Manny ran in for a try in the corner to score Finchley’s first points.
It was at this point Finchley stepped up their game and some strong attacking play found Epping offside and Dave Earle converted a 28 metre penalty to reduce the deficit to 2 points. Finchley continued to press with No 8 Jack Mousley at the forefront with some strong running. From an attacking scrum, Jack broke from the back and the ball was moved quickly to winger Tom Lewin who ran in from 25 metres evading two tacklers for an unconverted try for Finchley to take the lead for the first time at 13-10.
As half time approached there was what proved to be the defining moment of the game. Finchley won the ball in its own half and moved the ball out to Lewin again. From the half way line he broke away and produced a delicate chip over the defence, he gathered his own kick and sprinted for the line stepping two defenders for what was the try of the season for Finchley. Which was converted for Finchley to lead 20 -10 at half time.
The second half started well for Finchley as from the kick off they secured the ball in the opponents half who failed to get onside and gave away a penalty 22 metres out to the right of the posts, the resulting kick was missed.
Epping regained the upper hand with their forwards driving the ball forward, in particular loose head Tom Dorling and No 8 Tim Matthews and they scored their second try as their pressure told. Having gone through several phases of play Epping had managed to draw in the Finchley defence leaving them with an overlap which their captain and No 10, Ryan Honey ran in unopposed for an unconverted try to reduce the deficit to 20 -15.
Epping then stepped up their work rate and it was only Finchley’s excellent defence turning the ball over on three occasions in their own 22 that prevented them scoring again. This defensive effort was typified by lock Tom McAuliffe who sprinted 30 metres to produce a try saving tackle on Epping’s winger.
The pressure told and Epping gained a penalty 25 metres out which No 15 Curtis Knightly slotted over. With the home fans nervous the last 10 minutes saw Finchley take control back and were awarded 3 penalties within 30 metres of the post all were missed and the game finished with Finchley as Bowl winners 20-18.
The game was played in a great spirit and was evenly contested, a moment of brilliance from winger Tom Lewin proved to be the difference between the teams. Captain Alek McCarthy- Rechowicz proudly picked up the winner’s trophy 28 years after the last cup final win.
Updated 17:33 - 30 Apr 2016 by George Loureda