HELLINGLY RFC won their first silverware in 17 years in a dramatic extra-time win against Midhurst RFC in the Sussex Plate Final.
The game was intense from the start and Midhurst were the first to concede an early penalty within kicking distance, although the Hellingly kicker’s attempt sailed wide of the post.
Midhurst had a shot at goal which failed and Hellingly had two themselves before the ball finally sailed through the posts for Hellingly to take a 3-0 lead.
Ruck penalties were then exchanged and scores were tied at 6-6.
As the game wore on, it seemed to settle into a forward battle between the 10 metre lines.
A penalty was conceded to Midhurst after some good back play threatened around Hellingly’s 22-yard-line.
But to Hellingly’s relief, the usually reliable Midhurst kicker missed. With twelve minutes left, it looked like Tom Manktelow could win the tie as Midhurst gave away another penalty and received a yellow card, however, the long- distance kick fell agonisingly short.
Then, with only minutes remaining Hellingly missed a second penalty, failing to make use of their one man advantage.
The full-time score was 6-6 and with nothing to separate the teams, the tie headed into extra-time.
Nervous exchanges followed in extra-time and Hellingly conceded a crucial penalty that Midhurst converted on the half time whistle to make the score 9-6 in Midhurst’s favour.
Hellingly, driven on by their enthusiastic supporters, picked themselves up and followed-up with a period of pressure testing Midhurst’s defensive abilities.
The Hellingly pack then drove 15 metres to the line from a well-won line-out where they then won another penalty.
Captain Mark Harris called for a scrum from five metres which required four resets and resulted in a Midhurst yellow card.
The Hellingly scrum finally drove over the line with number 8, James Grey, touching down for the winning points in the last play of the game.
Hellingly’s last-ditch win was celebrated by both the ecstatic players and the brilliant Hellingly supporters.
Coach Nigel Gossedge said, “It was a fantastic day for the club. It was an intense game and there were times when I thought It might not be our day but the lads were superb.
“We are in the habit of winning games at the moment and that will to win saw us through.”