1st Team - County Champions
Letchworth 25 v Bishop's Stortford 15
It is 27 years since Letchworth last lifted the trophy, the same age as skipper Richard Penny, who joyfully raised it aloft at 4:45 down at St Albans on Sunday. Unlike last year when Letchworth were ill prepared for this game this was a cracking match which had it all. The lead changed hands several times until Letchworth finally ran clear in the last 10 minutes. The large crowd were impressed by the standard of rugby throughout which be fitted this President's cup final and also by the quality of refereeing by the young referee.
Letchworth played against the breeze and slope in the first half and after three minutes conceded a penalty on the 10 meter line which the Stortford winger converted to make it three nil. Then impressive flanker Luke Mungston took great ball at the end of the line out and inter passed with Joe Shaw. The backs then lent a hand and took it up to the Stortford 22. After a great move the ball was worked wide and Simon Hrbek danced inside his opposite number to score out wide. Unfortunately his conversion attempt strayed wide so it was 5-3 to Letchworth.
Back down the field came Stortford and whilst Letchworth tried to run it out of their own 22 the ball was overturned and a quick move saw their left winger score in the corner.
The only controversial moments of the game came when full-back Kieron Davies, chasing his own kick, was taken out of the air and subsequently Stortford were awarded a penalty to add insult to injury. However this time the right winger missed with the boot.
Letchworth scrummaging was becoming increasingly dominant at the end of the first half with the big men Cooke, Amos, Penny and Pearson driving hard. Hooker Robin 'Pottsy' French also enjoyed his finest game of the season. His work in the loose was phenomenal and his throwing in was first class. Youngsters Ross Allen and Luke Mungston also were noticeable around the field and what can one say about the phenomenal number eight that is Joe Shaw; a Letchworth stalwart for over six seasons now.
The score remained 8-5 at half time. Legends took the initiative in the second half but after only five minutes Mungston received a yellow card and 10 minutes on the naughty step. Things were evened up a few minutes later when the Stortford hooker was sent to the bin.
Letchworth continued to press and some great driving runs by Pearson, Gary Glencross and Amos brought them close to the line. However it was the ever dependable centre Rick Streets who crashed through for a great try after 10 minutes of the second half.
Letchworth now introduced semi-final hero young Michael Waters, only 17. As Stortford tried to run it from deep Waters intercepted a bad pass and galloped in under the post for a seven pointer. This time Kieron Davies added the points.
Bishop Stortford, a fine side, were not going to lie down however. After 10 minutes of intense pressure they scored a try to make it 17-15, the slenderest of margins.
However back came the legends with Jimmy Tirrell to the fore with a sparkling run. Again the ball was worked on the blind side and after great forward to driving Vinny Kevens swept over for the decisive score in the corner with the conversion just going under the bar 22 15
Stortford now had to run from deep again to secure even a draw and the Letchworth offensive defence was reminiscent of Saracens on Saturday! In the last minute Stortford infringed in front of their own post to give Davies the easiest of penalties. He made no mistake and there was joyous rapture from the Letchworth supporters as the referee blew for no side.
This was more than a fitting end to the 90th season with the County Cup coming north for the first time in over a quarter of a century. It will take pride of place on Saturday at the annual players presentation dinner which takes place in the marquee at Legends Lane at 7 o'clock. Special guests John Bentley and Gary Rees will be on hand to donate the awards. Tickets are still available from Chris Lunnon on 01462 896289.