Gloucestershire Plate ambitions thwarted by a late come-back by Stow
STOW-on-the-Wold battled back from 12-0 down, to edge past St Brendan's and lift the Gloucestershire Plate Trophy at Coombe Dingle.
The visitors deserved their slender victory, but Brendan's must have thought they were heading for glory, as they dominated the first half of the game.
But, in the second period, everything that could go wrong did for Saints, and Stow took full advantage of their opponent's misfortune.
Playing into a strong wind, the home side opted to keep the ball in hand, and ran at every opportunity.
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Saints wing Jacob Harris opened the scoring after 18 minutes, when he finished off a well-worked move to race in under the posts. Fly-half Alec Gear converted.
The home side continued to dominate, with centre Rhys Hughes showing some nice touches in midfield, and flanker Josh Grant never far away from the ball in his man-of-the-match display.
Stow, to their credit, tackled superbly, but were unable to halt rampaging prop Liam White when he charged over for Saints second try on 23 minutes.
But, despite being under the cosh for the vast majority of the half, the visitors pulled a try back, courtesy of centre James Connolly, on the stroke of half time, which gave them a boost ahead of the second half.
The strong wind that Saints faced in the first half, changed direction, and they had to contend with it again during the second half.
And, as the bright sunny weather switched to heavy rain, Saints found the ball increasingly difficult to handle. The home side were kept penned in their half with some smart tactical kicking by Stow scrum-half Matt Oughton
Saints were then hit with a triple whammy. They lost influential playmaker Gear with a leg injury, closely followed by the sin-binning of a player for a dangerous tackle.
And while Saints were reduced to 14 men, Stow wing Elliott Langley raced in at the corner for an unconverted try to make it 12-10.
The visitors, now brimming with confidence, continued to press, and took the lead six-minutes later when Connolly powered his way over for his second try, which was converted, to give Stow the lead for the first time in the match. Brendan's finished in the ascendancy, but the visitors held on to clinch a memorable victory.
Stow coach Dave Oughton said: "We were up against it today, but our collective spirit and self belief saw us through. We've had to do it the hard way – we've had to come here with a bare 15, and we had to come back from 12-0 down. But there is a real togetherness in the team, and I knew they would battle until the end."
Saints' coach Ray Hughes said: "We started off really well, and I thought we looked the more likely winners at that stage.
"But things went against us in the second half, and our usual high-tempo game was hampered by the poor weather conditions.
"But I think Stow played with a good structure, and deserved to win."