Trojans Academy welcomed their visitors from Sunbury to Stoneham Lane on a bright December afternoon which was surprisingly warm for the time of year. Both sets of supporters and players looked forward to an exciting clash between two strong teams who had met twice in the previous years with honours even. After last weeks bruising encounter the Academy were faced with another stern challenge, this time from the top of the M3.
Trojans started off in confident manner taking the game to Irish and pressing deep into their half. After an early penalty attempt was off target Trojans regrouped and came back at Irish with the ball finding its way to Dan W on the charge who powered through the away team defenders to score with Tom KO converting , 7-0 after 5 minutes. With Irish camped in their own half Trojans were playing flowing rugby with the influential Josh G next to score picking up an off load from Harry C who had run a very good line cutting through the Irish defence, Tom KO converted 14-0. The home team were playing some of their best rugby of the season so far with backs and forwards being orchestrated by effervescent Harry J. More pressure from a line out by Trojans led to hooker JT pouncing on a ball to dive over and score a well deserved try with Tom KO converting ,21-0 after 20 minutes.
Irish came back into the game crossing into the Trojans half for the first time. Ollie C always looking to counter was a constant threat with ball in hand and set up an number of offensive moves from his wing. Irish forced a line out on the right which they caught and drove through their larger pack and despite several warnings from the referee Trojans infringed with a penalty try awarded 21-7.Skipper JC rallied the troops and they were soon pressing in the Irish half.An infringement led to a penalty, skipper JC pointed to the posts and Tom KO scored; 24-7 and half time.
Whilst the crowd were left to catch their breath after a an exhilarating first half, the coaches joined the half time huddle and focused the team on the second half.
With fresh legs bought on in the sharp of Dan B for the unwell Will B Trojans found themselves pushed back as Irish came back at them in a positive and direct way with their forwards driving on. However strong defence from the wall of Trojans defenders keeping them at bay with Tom KO, JC,JT ,Josh G ,Dan B and Dan W all pushing them back .George C was putting in a huge shift and was prominent in the loose. Soon Trojans were back in the ascendancy with Dan W and George C crossing the gain line and driving deep into Irish territory.With Tom KO releasing the back line Trojans were in full flow. Harry J played on with a penalty advantage recycling the ball several times through to George C who crossed the line, Josh G converted 31-7.Irish were still not out of it and their forwards drove a maul over the line for a deserved try for the pack which they converted 31-14.
Could Irish come back into the game?
Trojans soon answered that question in the best way possible with the light footed Tom KO stepping a number of defenders on his way to scoring under the posts. He converted to make it 38-14 with 20 minutes to go.
With Trojans having now got their shape back they pushed forward with Tom N and Christian CM putting in a shift in the midfield.The ever probing Ben S carried into contact with relish with both Sam W and Ollie JH doing well on the wings.As the sun started to set the temperature dropped off the pitch but on the pitch it was warming up as the game entered the last 15 minutes.
Trojans rolled the dice again with Isaac P and Scott O entering the fray. As gaps began to appear Dan B picked up a pass from Josh G and sprinted home to score under the posts with Tom KO converting to take the game away from Irish; 45-14.
The impressive Tom KO kicked deep and Harry C chasing tackled the Irish 15 enabling Issac P to score from the resulting lose ball, 52-14. Will O entered the game replacing Sam W and was soon into the game with a couple of trademark tackles.Soon his attacking side came to fore as he scored from close in with Tom KO converting to make the score 59-14. There was still time for the determined and resolute Irish to score another try to make the final score 59-21.
The referee blew the whistle to bring to the end an exhilarating game of cup rugby played in a fantastic spirit with outstanding skills on display from both teams and ably supervised by the referee.
As both teams trooped off the pitch they were greeted by rapturous applause from the crowd who recognised the whole squad performance from Trojans Academy and the resolute and determined London Irish team.
In the post match huddle a smiling skipper JC spoke with pride to the team congratulating them on the win but reminding everyone that there was still more work to be done to cut out the errors and work on the areas of improvement needed to develop their rugby as a whole squad.The coaches agreed and as the teams set off the warmth of the changing rooms the sun went down on 2016. For the visitors a long drive back up the M3 beckoned; for Trojans Academy a chance reflect and return in 2017 to develop, improve and keep enjoying their Rugby.
Man of the match was George C