Game 3 of the day saw Trowbridge and Leek line up – I’d been lucky enough to be sitting near the BBC Wiltshire media man so was able to get a back story for the team from Wiltshire. Lloyd (David) Davies the Trowbridge scrum half had a catastrophic accident 4 years ago, when working as a welder sparks flew and hit him, he suffered 40% burns and was told that he was unlikely to play rugby again. To stand on the pitch at Twickenham must have felt like a dream come true for him more than any other man there. Could his team take home the trophy to make that dream an incredible one?
The story of the first quarter of the game was one of errors; Trowbridge were awarded an early penalty when Leek didn’t roll away, but they failed to win their own lineout. Leek were awarded a penalty due to a deliberate knock on- such a harsh rule in my opinion, it must be very hard not to stick an instinctive hand out for the ball – Gary McDermott stepped up but failed to score. We then had a series of knock ons and a forward pass; with the resulting scrums being successful first time almost without fail. This again made me question just why we have so many resets and penalties awarded in the premiership. One of these days I’ll interview some front row forwards and see if I can determine just what occurs! Trowbridge were awarded a penalty and Lloyd Davies kicked the ball cleanly through the posts much to the delight of a large portion of the crowd. My notes comment that there were ‘lots of knock ons and forward passes going on’ not always the best spectacle. Leek were awarded a penalty in a good attacking position and took a quick tap, only to be awarded a 2nd penalty, this time they kicked to touch. The tactic proved to be a good one as Luke Granger playing at hooker, but looking like a speedy scrum, half scored a good try. The conversion was missed – with the way the game had been going I wondered if the missed kicks could be instrumental for the result at the end of the 80 minutes.
The lead swapped places almost immediately as Trowbridge attacked first through the backs with Jackson Szabo and James Davies making breaks; the forwards joined in and Karl Parry scored a deserved try for Trowbridge. Lloyd Davies must have cursed his forwards as they hadn’t given him an easy kick; but he had no difficulty in adding the extras. Leek were next to attack with Gary McDermott making a great break, it appeared that they had scored, but the ball had quite clearly been knocked on in the process of scoring. Trowbridge then had a spell of living on their nerves as they tried to play the ball out of their own half, the eventual kick made very little distance. However Trowbridge won the Leek lineout and managed to clear the ball past the halfway line this time. Both teams had attacking opportunities before the whistle blew for half time, Sokonaia Narawa playing at 8 for Leek went down injured and needed attention, but he leapt up and made a huge tackle in one of the moments of the half! The teams went in with the scores on Trowbridge 10 Leek 5 after a tense first half.
I have to say as an observer that the first half lacked excitement but the second half certainly made up for it! Ten minutes into the second half Jackson Szabo set off on an amazing run, I was thinking, ‘pass, pass, pass!’ but he knew where he was heading and stormed in to score a great individual try! The kick was a difficult one and this time Davies missed. Leek had something to say to keep the gap a narrow one shortly after however, when they were awarded a penalty in front of the Trowbridge posts, they chose to take a quick tap and Gary McDermott ran over to score, he added the extras to take the gap to 3. The try seemed to give Leek some confidence and they found their mojo and started to spread the ball across the field, but as is often the way with big passes the ball was intercepted. The Trowbridge player was bundled into touch so not too much damage done. Joseph Knight made a great break for Trowbridge, he had Thomas Weaver on his shoulder but the ball was lost; an issue with the speedy boys powering away often means they find themselves isolated and losing the ball.
The advantage swung Trowbridge’s way after Edward Harrison put in a clumsy tackle and received a yellow card. A further penalty was awarded to Trowbridge but Leek won the resulting lineout, however Trowbridge won the next throw in. They had a series of drives and seemed to have missed a clear opportunity by failing to pass the ball out; prop Sean Jones had other plans and scored a typical forwards try as he powered over the line, Davies added the extras. Leek were still in determined mode and Samuel Hunt made a great break, his final pass to McDermott was a poor one though and the ball was knocked on in with the line beckoning. Leek won the scrum and had several phases of attack, Luke Granger went very close, they certainly didn’t look like the team with 14 men. Another 2 scrums were awarded and the Leek forwards went on an immense rolling maul, the maul was pulled down but play continued. Trowbridge had committed too many men to the defence and James Floyd took advantage of the huge gap to score! Gary McDermott converted to take the gap to a nail biting 3 points; it was edge of the seat stuff! Sokonaia Narawa had Trowbridge hearts in their mouths as he made a great run, the men from Wiltshire seemed to have lost their defensive line as they seemed to take the bees round a honeypot method of defence. The nail biting finish was on as Leek set up another rolling maul; they had a huge overlap but chose to take the ball into contact. Trowbridge held out and were awarded a penalty to the delight of their fans. The game finished with the scores on Trowbridge RFC 22 Leek RFC 19 after a hugely entertaining 2nd half.
Lloyd Davies had to be the man to talk to after the game after he and his team made the dream a reality. His day had started at 6:30 am and in his words his team had put in an exceptional performance. He was asked if he could have imagined this scenario when he was lying in hospital 4 years ago; his reply? ‘You’re having a laugh, the chances were a million to one’. And it was ‘the best feeling in the world!’ I asked Lloyd later if it would be ok to share his story, he was positive that he wanted other to know what he’s been through and how dreams could become a reality in spite of adversity. A really wonderful story with a very happy ending!