Picture gallery: Rugby: Saffron Walden miss out on promotion after play-off defeat at Twickenham
PUBLISHED: 09:55 08 May 2014
Walden travelled across to West London to play Twickenham in the London 2 North play-off game.
Walden were just one decision and one kick away from promotion, which would have capped an unbelieveable comeback, but they will nonetheless take great pride out of a fantastic campaign.
It was just not to be.
Things did not start too well for Walden, and it looked like being a one-sided affair as Twickenham rushed into a 15-point lead after only 10 minutes.
Tom Price narrowed the gap with two penalties before Twickenham added a third try to go 23-6 in front. Soon after the restart Twickenham tried to pass the ball down the line, but scrum-half Will Brown read the move, intercepted and raced to the line from 40 metres out. Price converted leaving the half time score at 23–13, giving Walden hope they could turn things around.
They managed to narrow the gap 10 minutes of the second half with another penalty, but when Twickenham scored their fourth try it looked like game over.
However, as has been the case this year, Walden did not lie down. Needing two converted tries, they threw everything at Twickenham with some fine runs by second row Andy Lancaster, winger Ben Stapleton and sub Harry Beddows.
With five minutes remaining Walden gained a penalty and No.10 Tom Hughes kicked perfectly to the corner. The line-out worked and they drove the ball inside and after several phases flanker Tom Pryke was driven over the line. Price converted.
Walden regained the ball from the restart and efficiently worked the ball back in to the home half. Another penalty was won, and was again kicked into the corner, this time setting up a catch and drive. Sensing this was their last opportunity, an eight-man drive soon became a 10 and then 11-man drive, and as they got over the line prop Steve Mugridge dotted the ball down. Price kept his nerve to calmly slot over.
Extra time beckoned and another pulsating 20 minutes of rugby followed.
Price kicked another penalty to put Walden in front for the first time, but Twickenham scored another try as they broke through a tiring defence.
Walden responded with a try of their own on the stroke of half time as Beddows cut inside and outpaced the covering defence.
Still there was more drama to come. Price kicked another penaltyto stretch the Walden lead to six points but Twickenham came back with some strong running and, after a couple of phases, went over in the corner. The Twickenham kicker added the conversion out wide to put his side 43-42 in front.
But it wasn’t over. Centre Mark Kimeberley was first to react to a loose ball and fly-hacked it on. The ball bobbled, he regained it and scored under the posts. The referee gave it and Walden celebrated ... but the touch judge persuaded the referee there was a knock-on and the game was called back.
Then, with 90 seconds left, Walden worked the ball forwards.
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 away a penalty, 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.
Twickenham kicked the ball dead to take the victory.