Honiton triumph at Twickenham

PUBLISHED: 17:44 06 May 2019 | UPDATED: 18:04 06 May 2019

Honiton RFC at Twickenham. Ref mhsp 19 19TI 4349. Picture: Terry Ife

Honiton RFC at Twickenham. Ref mhsp 19 19TI 4349. Picture: Terry Ife

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Honiton Rugby Club became the pride of the Westcountry when they lifted the RFU Senior Vase at Twickenham.

Honiton RFC at Twickenham. Ref mhsp 19 19TI 4213. Picture: Terry IfeHoniton RFC at Twickenham. Ref mhsp 19 19TI 4213. Picture: Terry Ife

The East Devon side twice came from behind to defeat Yorkshire outfit Northallerton 29-27 at the home of rugby.

After an even start at a cloudy Twickenham, Northallerton began to assert their dominance. They scored the first points of the game when they were awarded a penalty for a high tackle and Ashley Rio duly converted.

The Honiton team had to dig deep and hold back the waves of Northallerton attack but the wall did eventually crumble in the 31st minute.

Ian Swall forced his way through to the try line and with Jedd Bainbridge converting, Honiton were facing a 10-0 deficit at the break.

Honiton RFC at Twickenham. Ref mhsp 19 19TI 4211. Picture: Terry IfeHoniton RFC at Twickenham. Ref mhsp 19 19TI 4211. Picture: Terry Ife

After the game, Honiton player-coach Nathan Hannay reflected on this period as a time when the team had to dig deep and 'show great character to overcome adversity'.

His team rallied and scored back-to-back tries in the dying minutes of the half.

Captain Will Goulden forced the ball over the line in the 39th minute before Adam Thompson completed the one-two suckerpunch. Tom Steer converted the first but missed the second meaning the Tons led 12-10 at the break.

The Lacemen had a chance to further increase their lead soon after via a penalty but, with the wind beginning to pick up inside the ground, they were unable to score.

Honiton RFC at Twickenham. Ref mhsp 19 19TI 4381. Picture: Terry IfeHoniton RFC at Twickenham. Ref mhsp 19 19TI 4381. Picture: Terry Ife

They were not waiting long for their next score though. The momentum of the conclusion of the first half had carried through into the opening stages of the second and in the 54th minute, they gave themselves some breathing room.

Alex Brookes scored after a period of sustained pressure and the try was converted by Steer, setting the score at 19-10.

The try revitalised Northallerton who had been in a daze since Honiton's first try. Simon Manthorpe broke clear and required a last ditch tackle from the Tons to deny him.

With less than 20 minutes left, the Yorkshire side did pull one back via Joe Hargreaves.

The score was set at 19-17 to Honiton as the Lacemen faced a nervous final 15.

Minutes later though and disaster struck. Northallerton scored a penalty meaning they led by one point before Alexander Metcalfe jinked his way through the Honiton defence to score.

The conversion by Rio meant Honiton had just ten minutes to overturn an eight point deficit.

In the 71st minute, they were given a lifeline as Steer converted a penalty and with the clock ticking down, the magic moment came in the 77th minute.

A late try was scored and converted meaning Honiton had two minutes to protect their 29-27 lead and they did just that as the final whistle blew to the joy of the squad as well as the 600 Ton fans present.

After the game, man of the match Nathan Hannay said he was speechless. He said: “It was some game.

Let's give credit to Northallerton, who are a very good side and showed some terrific spirit of their own for the two teams to serve up the match we did.

“It's been an unbelievable journey with an unbelievable end.”

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