Thatcham rugby club fell agonisingly short of claiming their first ever Southern Counties Cup after they were beaten 22-18 at Henwick Lane by Swanage and Wareham on Saturday.
In an evenly-matched tie, Thatcham held a narrow one point lead at half-time, but the Swans took advantage of the wind to pull away in the second half to hoist the trophy.
The hosts got off to the better start and picked up an early three-point through a Joe Leadley long-range penalty. But the Swans started to pile on the pressure, and a 10-minute spell on the home try line led to flanker Ilaitia Ratuqalovi eventually getting the touchdown, although the conversion was missed.
Thatcham weren’t going to roll over though, and very quickly regained the lead as Jamie Evans offloaded nicely for Mark Smith to cut through the defence and get the try. Leadley added the extras.
Midway through the first half Leadley’s boot earned Thatcham another three points, to put them 13-5 in front.
Just before the break the Swans fought back, with a converted try getting them within a point at the half-time whistle.
Coming out after the restart Thatcham had lost the wind advantage and put themselves under pressure with a couple of poor clearances.
Thatcham found themselves reduced to 13 men and the Swans were able to take the lead, with Tomes going over for an unconverted try.
With five minutes left the visitors landed the killer blow with another try through replacement flanker Inglis to put them nine points ahead.
Sean Richardson was able to pull five points back for the hosts in the dying moments, but it wasn’t enough to prevent defeat.
This result aside, Thatcham impressed on their way to making their first ever Southern Counties Cup final, and will be pleased with their performance overall in the competition.
They now return to Southern Counties North action this Saturday, and face a tough trip to play league leaders Marlow.