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1st XV - Match centre

Twickenham
Saffron Walden
Sat 3 May 15:00 - League Full time

Fantastic, brilliant, stunning and oh so near to pulling off a great win.

Walden battle back but denied at the last moment in Extra time

Walden travelled across to West London to play Twickenham rfc in the London 2 North Play off game. In fine conditions both teams put on a fantastic display of committed rugby that had the large crowd applauding both teams off the pitch as they knew they had just witnessed one of the best games of rugby you are ever likely to see.
However after 10 minutes of the game it might have looked to be a one sided affair as the home team got off to a great start with a penalty and 2 tries to go 15 points up.
Walden's first points came from a penalty and Full back Tom Price stepped up to take the 3 points. 15 -3 after 15 mins. Then he narrowed the gap with another penalty after the home team strayed off side 15 – 6, 22 mins.
Twickenham stretched their lead first with a penalty of their own as Walden went off the feet at a ruck and then they scored their 3rd try with a break down the wing and Walden looked up against it as they trailed 23 – 6 with only 2 minutes to go before half time.
But soon after the restart Twickenham tried to pass the ball down the line, but scrum half Will Brown read the move and intercepted and raced to the line from 40 metres out. Price converted leaving the half time score at 23 – 13 and giving Walden hope they could turn things around.
Walden narrowed the gap after 10 mins of the second half with another penalty 23 – 16, 50 mins. But when with only 15 mins to go Twickenham scored their 4th try when they broke down the left and ran round near the posts it looked like game over 30- 16 as Walden now needed 2 converted tries. But this team and the club in general this year does not know when to lie down and they started throwing everything at Twickenham, some fine runs by 2nd row Andy Lancaster, winger Ben Stapleton, and sub Harry Beddows started to give hope but gradually the clock was ticking down. With 5 minutes remaining Walden gained a penalty and No10 Tom Hughes missing his own stag weekend kicked perfectly to the corner and the line out worked and they drove the ball inside and after several phases flanker Tom Pryke was driven over the line Price converted 30 – 23 76 mins.
Walden regained the ball from the restart and again efficiently worked the ball back in to the home teams half and again got a penalty and again kicked into the corner this time setting up a catch and drive and as the clock ticked past full time started to edge towards the line sensing this was their last opportunity and 8 man drive soon became a 10 and then 11 man drive and as they got over the line prop Steve Mugridge got the ball down. 30 -28 with the conversion to go. Tom Price had the most pressured kick, one that he would normally get but this one was different and the crowd held their breath but his routine was normal and he calmly slotted it over and the Walden crowd celebrated.
Extra time beckoned. Another pulsating 20 mins of rugby for the crowd to savour.
Price kicked another penalty after a couple of minutes 30 – 33 and Walden led for the first time. Twickenham scored another try as they broke through a tiring defence 37 -33 but Walden responded with a try of their own on the stroke of half time as Harry Beddows cut inside and outpaced the covering defence 37 - 40.
Still there was more drama as the second period of half time started, Price kicked another penalty after 93rd minute 37 – 43. Twickenham yet again came back with a some strong running and after a couple of phases Walden ran out of defence and they went over in the corner 42 – 43. The Twickenham kicker held his nerve to score a fine conversion from wide out 44 – 43. 98th minute
But it wasn't over yet and from the restart Walden pressurised the home team into a mistake and ball went loose Centre Mark Kimeberley was first to react and fly hacked it on, the ball bobbled (he swears it came off his knee) and he regained it and scored under the posts. The referee gave it and Walden celebrated but the Touch judge called the Referee over and he persuaded the referee that there was a knock on and the game was called back and a home team scrum was awarded just outside the 22. Walden were stunned and Twickenham breathed a sigh of relief. But there was still 90 seconds to go Twickenham won the scrum and kicked long Walden's back 3 worked together and got the ball up towards half way, the forwards took over and picked and drove over the half way line as the clock ticked past full time for the second time in the afternoon. Twickenham gave the penalty away but this time 45 metres out, Walden deliberated and decided this was their one last chance Price stepped up and took the kick but the breeze and the distance defeated him and it dropped a few metres short and Twickenham kicked the ball dead to take the victory.
Twickenham celebrated and Walden shed a tear or two as to what might have been a fantastic comeback. The whole crowd cheered both sets of players.
Walden can be so proud of how far they have come this year, one decision and one long kick away from being promoted. It did not take long for the hurt to subside and soon the players were enjoying the beer and the sunshine knowing they had been part of a fantastic occasion both sides congratulating each other for the effort and for the commitment put in. A true celebration of amateur rugby played and watched in the right spirit.

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