Middlesex men 18 – Dorset & Wilts Mens 20
The third and final fixture in Middlesex’s successful venture in the Bill Beaumont Cup took place at Grasshoppers RFC. Grasshoppers who looked after the squad so well during the five training sessions and many planning sessions hosted not only Middlesex on May21st but Dorset & Wilts alongside a sizeable number of spectators. Dorset & Wilts promised to be tough competition as they had won this league last year and were chasing promotion in this years campaign. However Middlesex were not prepared to make victory easy and promised to put up a fight. They delivered.
Outweighed across the starting 15 , Middlesex moved the ball around with a tenacity that at first pinned back the visitors and then shocked them as the favourites went behind to the quick feet of Dan Phoenix as he crossed the line on the 5 minute mark. Oliver Snook strode up to add the extras and the home side led with 6 minutes on the clock. Joe Healy continued to batter away and with James Lo yet again making yards with every reception the favourites grew frustrated and conceded a penalty. Snook again teed up and this time slotted a three pointer from a difficult angle to take the home side 10-0 up. Confidence and momentum were on the side of Middlesex as Billy Burrell probed and disrupted the defensive line backed up at the breakdown by Tom Gadsby and the inexhaustible Cale Holmes. Buoyed by the invaluable home support Middlesex rose to the occasion as it was the turn of Taylor Williams to dance across the line and extend the lead. The forwards , not to be outshone by the backline, dominated their considerably larger opposite numbers. Captain Cai Griffiths leading from the front continued the assault accompanied by Michael Griffiths (still no relation) at every contact. But in extra time , the experience showed and against the run of play Dorset & Wilts scored a well worked try from the hands of their No. 3. The conversion was successful and the home side went in leading 15-7.
Dorset & Wilts had a second visit in a row to Twickenham as their target and they came out of the starting block as the whistle went for the second half with a previously unseen determination. Yacob Kial and Jabob Lloyd threw their bodies into defense with Tom Foster providing resolute defense. But again the Dorset & Wilts No. 3 showed his agility and creativity to slide in for a second try. Middlesex heads refused to go down and in an excellent display of rugby by both sides the game continued at a ferocious pace. Peter Bicknell committing to lines with such pace that with almost every dart he opened up space around him, Max Imfeld making sure his opposite number was aware of his prescience continued his unending work rate and the introduction to the pitch of Alex Watts added a new dimension of physicality. Rich Bryan used himself as battering ram, his footwork belying his size as he continuously outstepped the opposition back row allowing the back-line room to move the ball. But Dorset & Wilts showed their composure and experience in the cup. Keeping their head about them they scored a well worked third try with confirmation from the touch judge to take the lead for the first time. Amazingly Middlesex refused to quit and the persistence paid off with George Kimmins slotting a penalty to make the game 18-17 with two minutes to go.
High drama was a fitting way to end the game. An infringement spotted in extra time was awarded in Dorset & Wilts favour, the referee noted this would be the last play of the game and the kick was lined up.
18-20 is a harsh way to lose at home , but there is no doubt that immense pride can be taken from what Middlesex have achieved in their return to the Bill Beaumont Cup. The list of thanks is long and those who played their part will undoubtedly be recognised in due course.
Next season should see the county add experience and a track record to its armoury , a trip to Twickenham in 2020 is surely on the cards.
1. Joe Healy – Mill Hill
2. Max Imfield – HAC
3. Michael Griffiths – London Welsh
4. Cai Griffiths – London Welsh (capt.)
5. Jacob Lloyd – HAC
6. Tom Gadsby – Chiswick
7. Cale Holmes – H & F
8. Rich Bryan – Chiswick
9. Billy Burrell – Hendon
10. Oliver Snook – Chiswick
11. James Lo – H & F
12. Dan Phoenix – London Cornish
13. Peter Bicknell – Hampstead
14. Taylor Williams – H & F
15. Tom Foster – Twickenham
16. Fred Bromley – Finsbury Park
17. Alex Watts – London Scottish
18. Yacob Kial – Grasshoppers
19. Jake Lamport – Uxbridge
20. Mark Coles – Uxbridge
21. George Kimmins – London Cornish
22. Arvin Poogooladoo – HAC
Head Coach : Mark Jackson
Forwards Coach: Corne du Rand
Backs Coach: Peter Halsall & Edd Conway
Physio: Steve Bosworth & Sofia Simeone
Manager: Alex Pereira-Inacio