Gallery: St Neots III 12 Ely Tigers III 14
IT is an almost irrefutable sporting fact that the worst, most agonising way to miss out on a championship title is by virtue of points difference. The sympathies of sportsman worldwide then, must be extended to the luckless battlers of Ely Tigers 3 XV, a
IT is an almost irrefutable sporting fact that the worst, most agonising way to miss out on a championship title is by virtue of points difference.
The sympathies of sportsman worldwide then, must be extended to the luckless battlers of Ely Tigers 3 XV, as their late bid for championship glory was dashed against the rocks by the all-conquering Shelford team who pipped them to the title on points scored.
Despite a season of hard graft and sacrifice, Ely's 14-12 final day victory over St Neots was just not enough as rivals Shelford edged to a narrow 14-11 victory over Cambridge Exiles and seized the plaudits thanks to the few extra points they had scored over the season.
The obvious disappointment of missing out on the league aside, Captain Ben Brownlie, was keen to draw on the positives: "It was a good game and we came back from 7-12 down at half time to win 14-12. Not a bad feat against the reigning champions of the last two seasons, and a great end to the league season for us."
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Coming into the match Ely were level on points with Shelford and needed only for the latter to draw or lose, or for themselves to win by a exorbitant margin, to claim the title. The match started badly for Ely though, as the hosts applied an unnerving amount of pressure which eventually saw the characteristically mountainous Ely defence crumble.
St Neots' Nick Muston opened the scoring for the hosts and, despite a concerted effort from Ely to regain the upper hand, they soon widened the gap as Richard Warmington powered through for a second score, this time converted to bring the score to 12-0.
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It required a prodigious redoubling of their efforts to get Ely back into the game and just such a moment saw Brownlie's men break up field to score a vital try just minutes shy of the half.
The Tigers resumed hostilities with renewed vigour and were on hand to take full advantage of an opposition sin bin to drive home another converted score. Incensed at the loss of their lead, St Neots launched into a frenzied series of attacks but were unable to draw on the kind of sinuous rugby that had seen them canter to a first half lead, ultimately handing Ely the victory.