GREENE KING LEAGUE
Fresh from winning the first stage of the Eastern Counties Division One West League, Thurston travelled to Ipswich YM for the first of their six play-off games, writes Hannah Dolman.
Thurston pulled off a thrilling final few minutes — which included two quick tries — to win 18-16.
The eventual winner of the Eastern Counties Division One Shield will be crowned Eastern Counties One ‘Team of the Year’ and will gain automatic promotion to the London 3 Eastern Counties League.
After an uneventful start, YM scored two tries in the last 10 minutes of the first half to put them 10-0 ahead.
In response, Thurston’s Ash Allen converted a penalty to put them on the scoreboard at the half-time whistle.
But further penalties to the home team left the score at 16 – 6 with only four minutes remaining to leave Thurston a lot of work to do.
An expertly finished try by Ruaridh Williams — from an Ed Ballam break — suddenly gave them a chance, although Ashby’s failure to convert meant another try was needed to steal an unlikely win.
And, incredibly, Ballam again found a gap with Williams again going over — this time under the posts — to level the scores at 16-16.
Ashby did not miss the conversion as Thurston nicked the winning four points in the 18-16 final score.
Williams was awarded the man of the match performance for his role in the win.
Club president Andrew Speed said: “It was a great start — Thurston aspire to be Eastern Counties champions.
“This goal was made all the more poignant given the tragic loss of our fellow player Josh Gilbert earlier in the season.
“The resilience and team spirit of the players so far this year has been a credit to all involved.
“The supporters of the club have admired and enjoyed the way the Thurston first and second team have played and won their games.”
• Meanwhile, Stowmarket currently lead London 3 Eastern Counties after 16 (of 22) fixtures.