Superb Tows cap off memorable season in style

Tows win the maul. Picture by Jake McNulty
Tows win the maul. Picture by Jake McNulty

Towcestrians capped off a memorable season in fitting fashion by adding another trophy to their collection before thumping Swanage & Wareham on the final day.

Firstly, last week, a combined Towcestrians first and second XV added the Lewis Shield to their impressive haul of trophies this season with a hard-fought victory over a full-strength Bletchley side, under the lights of Franklin’s Gardens on Tuesday night.

Bletchley started well, their huge pack causing problems, contesting every breakdown and forcing Tows to give away two penalties which were despatched for a 6-0 advantage.

Towcestrains found their running style midway through the half, putting phases together and quick hands saw the ball move out to the wing where Alex Chalcraft crashed over for the first try of what would be a memorable night for the Tows winger.

With Scott Browne converting, Tows took the lead and though another infringement meant it was short-lived, more good work from the forwards released the space which was exploited by fast hands to Chalcraft for a carbon copy finish of his first try, again converted from the touchline by Browne.

Bletchley threw everything at the Tows and again picked up another kickable penalty which was slotted, a tiring Bletchley pack started to fall of tackles, making holes and allowing space for Thorne Gladwin to cross to stretch the lead to 19-12 at half-time.

Tows started the second-half in dominating fashion but dogged defence held them out until halfway through when a raft of changes gave them renewed impetus and more gaps were exploited by Chalcraft for his hat-trick.

Bletchley again came back at Tows and an infringement by Nicky Blackham saw him take a 10 minute rest in the bin, closely followed by Tyler Aris for a similar offence.

Down to 6 forwards and with Bletchley battering the line, Tows showed why they are champions of both 1st XV and 2nd XV leagues as great determination kept opposition at bay and eventually led to the excellent Eugene Baxter turning the ball over and Tows clearing their lines.

A penalty by Browne extended the lead and after Bletchley finally crossed for a well-worked try, there was one final opportunity for Tows and it was Chalcraft who scored his fourth try, converted by Browne, for a 34-19 victory.

Four days after that success, Tows returned to the league and finished their campaign in fine style with their third straight league victory where they have scored in excess of 70 points.

The Greens Norton Road clubhouse was packed to the rafters as the club hosted their first ever past players reunion lunch and in excess of 300 supporters expected a home win against bottom side Swanage.

The visitors made a surprisingly bright start and took the lead with a penalty but James Falvey responded by crossing for the first of 12 Tows tries before Pep Nanci danced through several tackles to set up an easy score for hooker Richard Tustian.

Matt Yuill, Chalcraft and Dave Stocks were next to cross the whitewash as Tows led 31-9 at half-time, a lead which rapidly increased throughout the second-half as Yuill and Chalcraft both scored again.

The hosts ran riot with impressive replacement Sam Neale stepping through for a score, followed by Sam Sturley, before Chalcraft secured yet another league hat-trick to confirm himself as the league’s top try scorer.

Wes McGimpsey and Neale scored tries 11 and 12, and at the final whistle, the champagne flowed as Tows look forward to what will be an exciting and challenging season back in the National Leagues.

After two seasons of failing to go up via the play-offs, first team skipper Zac Osborne expressed his excitement at gaining automatic promotion.

He said: “It’s a massive effort from everyone involved; all the coaches, management, physios and players, and after two years of narrowly missing out, the whole squad are genuinely excited at the prospect of challenging themselves at a higher level. The work starts here, well after tonight!”

Tows can reflect and look back with pride on what has been a hugely impressive campaign and season with not just the 1st XV gaining promotion but the 2nd XV also winning their league and the 3rd XV gaining promotion into the division just vacated by the IIs.