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28 October 2014

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Essex Rugby

Barking's Guillaume Schueller receives the Cup
Guillaume Schueller receives the Cup

Essex Cup Final: Thurrock 15 - 59 Barking

Martin Dutt
Barking hooker Willy Nel ran in three tries as the East Enders scored nine altogether to lift the Essex Senior Cup, beating the holders Thurrock 59-15 on Easter Sunday.

In doing so they created a piece of Essex rugby history by becoming the first club to win both the Senior and 2nd XV Cups in the same season.

Thurrock are ranked fourth in the county but there is a four league gap between the two clubs and Barking made no concession to that, fielding a full-strength side as they made their intentions obvious.

They didn't make an auspicious start though as former Thurrock Colt Rob Batho was yellow-carded after just five minutes for a push on an opponent after the whistle.  However, when he returned to the game ten minutes later Barking were 14-0 ahead through tries from Nel and Corrado Pilat, the full back adding both conversions.

Mounga Kafatolu breaks free
Mounga Kafatolu breaks free

Thurrock replied five minutes later with a penalty from Wayne Tredwell and ten minutes after that scored through Earl Gorman as Barking lost possession as they tried to run out of defence.  This score brought them a rocket from skipper Guillaume Schueller and his words had immediate effect as Pilat and Nel both scored again in a two-minute spell, Sevanaia Rokobaro's strong running setting up both tries.

Nel completed his hat-trick in injury time after Ben Heydenrych had burst through the middle of the Thurrock defence and at 33-8 at the interval it was all over bar the shouting.

Former Barking prop Paul Ansell thought otherwise, grabbing an interception two minutes into the second half and taking off on the long run up-field, only to be brought back for a knock-on.  Barking were awarded a penalty at the scrum which they put into touch, the forwards drove for the line and the ball was released for replacement Mike Couser to skip over the line for his first try for the 1st XV.

Pilat's conversion made it 40-8 and the game threatened to turn into a rout five minutes later when Anthony Skurr was stopped just short of the line only for Dave Gilmore to pop the ball up to send Batho in under the posts.

Willy Nel scores his second try
Willy Nel scores his second try

Then Macer Twydell became the second Barking player into the sin bin and Thurrock, whose pack had scrummaged solidly all game, opted for the scrum with Barking a man short.  They went for a pushover try and as Barking went backwards they collapsed the scrum, the referee awarding a penalty try which Tredwell converted.

This put new heart into the Cup holders and the game, from a Barking point of view went rather fast for the next 20 minutes as Thurrock enjoyed their best spell of the match and Barking struggled to rediscover their rhythm, the introduction of replacements at this time perhaps not helping.

However, they weathered the storm, keeping Thurrock from any further scores and bounced back to score twice in the last ten minutes, both tries from leading scorer Felise Ah-Ling, one converted by Pilat, whose haul of two tries and seven conversions gave him a personal tally of 24 points.

Thurrock had one final opportunity in the last minute when the bounce eluded two Barking defenders to sit up for Luke Crowhurst and only a last-ditch tackle kept the youngster from adding to the Thurrock total.

The Barking team celebrate with the Cup
The Barking team celebrate with the Cup

It had been a great chance for Barking to show the rest of the county just how far they have advanced in the last few seasons and what is achievable by hard work and determination - and the support of one of the county's longest and most generous sponsors in Keith Parker of Walkers Transport.

Thurrock had the opportunity to test themselves against one of the top 40 clubs in England and they didn't shrink from it. Hopefully they will be able to take that attitude into their next league game at Wimbledon on Saturday.

As for Barking, they face two tough away games to complete their league program, starting this Saturday with a visit to Esher, seeking a double over the Surrey club.  When Esher came to Goresbrook in December they led the table and were unbeaten. Barking on the other hand had been torn apart at Moseley the week before, suffering their heaviest defeat of the season.

It was not surprising that Esher led 15-0 at half time. What was surprising and very exciting was the fact that Barking turned it round in the second half to win 17-15.

If Saturday's game is half as exciting it will be worth the trip.

last updated: 18/04/06
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