- Captain’s last-minute conversion breaks Bridgnorth hearts again
- Staffordshire club through to RFU Intermediate Cup semis
Leek captain Gary McDermott held his nerve to win the Midlands Intermediate Cup and take his side into the national semi-finals of the RFU Intermediate Cup with a 16-14 win over Bridgnorth at Esterchem Park today (March 15).
Leek were trailing 14-3 with ten minutes remaining but McDermott calmly slotted two penalties and then converted an injury-time try from Naz Narawa which clinched a breathless win and completed a third narrow win over Bridgnorth this season following two victories in Midlands Two (North).
“I had a winning score in the league down there. They will be sick of me kicking last-minute kicks,” said former Staffordshire fly half McDermott.
Bridgnorth looked the likely winners for most of a match that was an excellent advertisement for grassroots rugby and which was superbly hosted by Leek.
A try from left wing Luke Stevens and three penalties from Will Biddell wiped out McDermott’s early strike for Leek and gave Bridgnorth a 14-3 lead five minutes into the second half.
But the Shropshire club failed to turn further pressure into points and the sin-binning of captain and hooker Dan Griffiths then replacement flanker Craig Thomas twice reduced Bridgnorth to 14 men in the last ten minutes.
Leek seized their opportunities with McDermott sensibly opting to pick up three points when they were on offer and trusting his side to finish strongly as they have so often this season.
Narawa’s try rewarded Bridgnorth for their mounting pressure and McDermott’s conversion avoided the need for extra time for the second successive round.
“It was the last kick of the game at Newbold in the Midlands semi-final as well so I’m getting used to it, but I could do without it,” McDermott said.
Leek will now have home advantage against Aspatria, the North champions, in the national semi-finals on Easter Saturday, which will be another big day for the Staffordshire Moorlands town.
“The crowd at the end I have never heard anything like that. It was like a football crowd,” McDermott said.
“Two thirds of the team are from Leek or the area so you could tell from the local support it meant a lot to them and it meant a lot to us.”