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1st XV - Match centre

South Leicester RFC
Tue 24 Mar 19:00 - Cup Full time

South Leicester victorious in retaining Leicestershire County Cup

South Leicester victorious in retaining Leicestershire County Cup

South Leicester victorious in retaining Leicestershire County Cup

South overcome both Hinckley and some adverse climatic conditions to retain the Marsh and Co sponsored Leicestershire County Cup last night. Due to Leicester Tigers reluctance to showcase the final at its traditional venue at Welford Road, scene of South's heroics last season, the game was relocated to Market Harborough RFC.
Strong squally rain showers and a fluctuating cross pitch wind greeted the players as they ran out at the well appointed ground although it offers very little shelter from the elements. South started the stronger team forcing Hinckley onto the back foot using both the wind and the more aggressive forward platform spearheaded by Jim Matthews and Chris Bale. Mark Lord had two penalty attempts blown wide with South dominating territory. They, however, were caught on the break against the run of play by a sweeping move from Hinckley which resulted in Evan Morgan converting a straightforward penalty in front of the posts.
South came storming back to dominate the forward exchanges and take the lead with a typical Chris Bale charge from the base of the scrum taking three Hinckley defenders with him over the line. Mark Lord made no mistake with the conversion.
With the momentum still with South, Tom Armstrong was denied an interception try brought back inextricably by Leics society referee Mark Hunt for a South forward pass. How he came to make that decision mistified the crowd although it was in a shadow laden part of the ground and the hooped shirts of both sides might have looked similar! Further pressure from a Mark Lord searing break and a Keiron Collins surge might have paid dividends, but the Hinckley defence held firm.
Hinckley, however, were penalised after not rolling away from the tackle and even taking into consideration the conditions, Mark Lord stroked the resultant penalty between the uprights to take South into a 10-3 half time lead.

Again South started brightly after the break resulting in another Lord penalty which again was blown wide. Hinckley responded with their best period of the game putting South under considerable pressure in every aspect of the game. They produced some fine rugby moving the ball away from the contact area at every opportunity, but were eventually let down by some poor decision making and condition assisted errors. Morgan did, however, convert two penalties in that period taking the Leicester Road outfit to within one point.
Mike March and Rob Sands were unable to pacify the referee as they were continually penalised for allegedly not binding and breaking too early from the South scrummage as the penalty count mounted against South. The referees lack of empathy with the South players is a trait we have seen on a number of occasions this season as South seem to have gained a ill deserved pre-conceived reputation for a lack of discipline.
As the game drew to a close Wes Cartwright replaced Rob Sands, Rich James went on for Andy Harris, Ben Antill for the injured Chris Bale and Ash Stevens for Kris McFredries.
With only seconds to go trying to close out the game, South were penalised for going off their feet and a very kickable penalty was awarded to Hinckley. Morgan stepped up, but the elements and the South faithful conspired to blow the ball marginally wide and victory was South's!
A close victory in really a dour and mistake ridden contest. However, a win is a win however ugly. This final, although nail biting in conclusion was in complete contrast to last years exciting finale versus Loughborough Students.
Now to conclude the season on a high note making sure South stay above Hinckley in the Leicestershire league pecking order. Victories over Longton, Broad Street and Kettering wouldn't go amiss to equal our best points total in our Midlands One tenure.

Cup Final team: Lang, Thomas, Armstrong, Collins, Nicholson, Lord, McFredries (Stevens), Bale (Antill), Sands (Cartwright), March (c), Matthews, Badham, Bayley, Green, Harris (James).

Match Report:Phil Lord

Quilter Kids First Champions winner – November: Hinckley RFC

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