Southam remain resolute to clinch dramatic last-gasp promotion berth

Tom Grimes tries to put Southam on the front foot in front of a healthy crowd at Kineton Road. Picture: Morris Troughton
Tom Grimes tries to put Southam on the front foot in front of a healthy crowd at Kineton Road. Picture: Morris Troughton
  • Midlands Three West (South)
  • Southam 13 Evesham 0

Four losses on the bounce at the end of September gave little indication of what was to come for Southam.

However, a dramatic turnaround which featured 17 games without loss, a semi-final appearance in the Midlands Cup and a win over Rugby Lions at the home of rugby built to this dramatic promotion decider against Evesham.

Southam needed to win by at least eight points to pip their visitors to promotion and the game understandably got off to a tense start with neither side making any early inroads.

The breakthrough came 20 minutes in when Southam secured possession from a loose pass on the half-way line courtesy of Flo Neale. He was brought down just outside the Evesham 22 and the ball was recycled and taken on by Will Grindal. Scrum-half Jay Ellerington then put in an exquisite kick to the corner which full-back Pete Burnell dived on to before slickly feeding the supporting Liam Monro for the try, converted by Will Grindal.

Evesham’s only scoring attempt of the half was a long-range penalty which drifted wide.

Southam suffered a setback when influential wing-forward Justinas Urbonas had to leave the field with a neck injury after 30 minutes to be replaced by James Finch.

The hosts continued to apply the pressure with a blindside break by Neale creating space for returning winger Ally Thorpe who made ground to the Evesham ten-metre line. Southam forced a penalty for not rolling away and Grindal added the three points.

Evesham responded by making their way to the Southam 22 but from the lineout the home side spoiled the ball, with the visitors driven into touch and their hooker yellow-carded for dissent.

Southam finished the half strongly and Thorpe picked up a cross-kick in front of his own 22 and made ground into the Evesham half.

The recycled possession was taken blind by Burnell who despite the attentions of four defenders still made ground into the visitors’ 22. The ball was then punched forward and fed to fly-half Harry Hewson who coolly slotted over a drop goal for a 13-0 interval lead.

Evesham came out firing after the interval and pummelled the home line only to be met by a resolute rearguard action from a side which has built its promotion challenge on a sound defensive platform.

Evesham ignored two kickable penalties, opting to take the lineouts while Southam made their task harder by missing relieving kicks to touch.

However, they stood up to everything Evesham threw at them in the opening 20 minutes of the half.

When they eventually broke out and into the Evesham 22, Grindal narrowly missed the penalty that would have put Southam two tries in front.

Evesham finished the game camped in the Southam 22 but the hosts kept them at bay.

They ensured they finished the game with a clean sheet when their pack forced a scrum penalty at the death and captain Grindal kicked to touch to herald the final whistle and scenes of celebration from a 500-strong crowd.