RUGBY: Fairford edge Minch in thriller to claim cup final spot

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Fairford try scorer Mike Wrona hands off young Minch full back Jack Richards Fairford try scorer Mike Wrona hands off young Minch full back Jack Richards

Stroud Combination Junior Cup semi final.

Fairford 25.

Minchinhampton 22.

FAIRFORD put in a spirited performance against a stubborn Minchinhampton side to reach the Stroud Combination Junior Cup final.

Fairford came out the blocks with a will which Minch were unable to deal with.

The first try came after 15 minutes when 'Ants' Little offloaded for prop Ben Goodey to rumble through two defenders for a score.

Fairford's set piece functioned well throughout but a lack of accuracy meant they often gifted Minch the ball.

The score had woken up the visiting attack and they went close through the pace and power of back row pairing Kimber and Dan Wood.

From a line-out close to the Fairford line, the second-row partnership of Dave Maller and Rosser-Smith drove to within a yard.

Quick thinking Neil Wood then spotted a gap to drive over for the converted try which put Minch 7-5 ahead.

The home side, spurred on by a vociferous crowd were soon ahead again, centre Neil Bee using his substantial bulk to cross from five metres out.

Using the boot, Minch gained territory, before levelling the score with a penalty. Despite being the better side Fairford made hard work of the afternoon and gifted Minch their second try, a defensive mix-up allowing Sam Hester to break away, this time off a line-out, to beat two men to score and make it 10-17.

A stern word from skipper Rich Lewis at half-time caused Fairford to take the game by the scruff of the neck and they started to play with more intensity.

They pulled a try back after Mike Wrona collected a Harry Johnson kick and finished superbly from 25 metres out.

Minch full back Richards then collected a kick and ran back at pace. He linked well with Hester who span his way to the line putting Minch 22-7 ahead with 20 minutes left.

But Fairford's pack remained in the ascendancy and their set piece laid the foundations for the equalising try. After a driving line-out stopped short of the line, Simon Waite powered over from close range.

Extra-time looked likely as the pace of a great cup semi final took its toll on both teams. But Fairford took the lead with three minutes left after Fairford were awarded a penalty 30 metres out. Andy Waite took over kicking duties and kept his cool to strike home safely much to the delight of the crowd.

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