Stroud Combination Plate Final.

Fairford 20, Painswick II 17.

FAIRFORD gained a hard-fought victory in the Stroud Combination Plate final on Saturday to ensure Josh Lenthall’s last game as coach was a memorable one.

Playing into the wind at Stroud RFC, Fairford looked to keep things tight but were behind early after a well struck penalty from Painswick.

From the kick-off Fairford gained good field position and a quick burst down the blindside from Matt Boulton saw the ball moved to ‘Sofa’ Bowman who crossed for the first try, then added the extras.

Painswick looked to use their forward pack to drive forward and with Fairford down to 14 men after Bowman was yellow carded they took advantage to cross for a converted try.

Fairford were forced to defend for much of the remainder of the half but after a kick from Duncan Scrivens they managed to establish field position and the ball was moved to Piers Powis who burst through before offloading for Ants Little to cross by the posts; Bowman again converted.

The second half started with Painswick using their pack and driving line-out to put Fairford under pressure but were unable to break through the defence despite Fairford losing Boulton to the sin bin.

Fairford started to gain an advantage in the scrum and secure more possession but it was Painswick who regained the lead. From another rolling maul they crossed in the corner for a converted try.

This seemed to kick Fairford back into life and, having turned over the ball from the kick-off, they moved the ball wide only to be stopped by a last-gasp tackle. Taking a scrum against the head, they continued to attack and were rewarded with a penalty which Bowman converted to level the scores.

This was soon followed with a second penalty as Fairford took the lead with less than ten minutes to play.

After a late scare, with Painswick spilling the ball over the try line and missing a drop goal, Fairford played out the last minutes for a well-earned victory in front of fanatical support who were rewarded as skipper Prowse received the trophy.