Trojans play-off dream shattered by dramatic stoppage time score

Danny Ratcliffe produced a terrific display but couldn't prevent Thornhill suffering a dramatic last-gasp play-off defeat.
Danny Ratcliffe produced a terrific display but couldn't prevent Thornhill suffering a dramatic last-gasp play-off defeat.

It took a try in the seventh minute of stoppage time to shatter Thornhill’s hopes of promotion via the National Conference Division Two play offs and bring their season to any abrupt end.

With 10 minutes of normal time remaining Thornhill led Blackbrook 14-0 lead and looked to be heading into the play off final.

However, three very late tries from Blackbrook turned this game on its head leaving Thornhill’s travelling contingent looking on in disbelief.

The Trojans dominated for over an hour and it was difficult to comprehend how the game slipped away in the closing stages.

Given the long winning run Blackbrook were on, it was foolish to expect them to roll over as the home side played right up until the final whistle.

Danny Ratcliffe was Thornhill’s man-of-the-match but special praise also went to Liam Morley who showed some magical touches. There were also impressive showings from Ben Kendall and Jake Wilson.

Gareth Love was dismissed after 15 minutes after he entered the field of play to break up a scuffle which was happening in front of where he was spectating from.

The referee was having none of Love’s Good Samaritan actions and showed him a red card to give the rare instance of a non-player being dismissed.

The incident added further fuel to the fire in a game that was already heated. Play was restarted and Jake Wilson was almost immediately sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle.

Thornhill continued to dominate and the breakthrough came when Ben Kendall surged onto the ball and went on a powerful run, holding off Blackbrook defenders to score. George Woodcock converted.

Thornhill’s defence stood firm and to thwart a spell of Blackbrook pressure but they received a team warning for interference at a play the ball.

Morley went on a brilliant solo run and unpicked the Blackbrook defence and kicked forward but the ball was forced dead as the Trojans had to settle for a 6-0 interval lead.

Danny Ratcliffe collected a high kick on the last tackle and sent out a pass to George Stott but he was unable to hold the ball and a try went begging.

Blackbrook were penalised for holding down and Woodcock kicked the goal.

Further pressure saw Danny Ratcliffe chip forward and Wilson leapt top gather and score, with Woodcock converting as Thornhill led 14-0.

With only 10 minutes of normal time remaining Thornhill looked to be heading for the play off final and even when Blackbrook scored a long range break away try from Jordan Darwin, which Aaron Hewitt improved, there seemed little cause for concern.

But then Blackbrook scored almost straight from the restart and it was suddenly game on. On the last tackle, with play on the Thornhill try line, the ball was flicked up and Scott Davidson ploughed over for a try and Hewitt converted.

The game suddenly came to life and Blackbrook threw everything at the Trojans.

The referee continually stopped and started his watch at any hint of time wasting or play been slowed down.

In what transpired to be the final seconds, a quickly formed scrum saw the ball worked along the Blackbrook attacking line.

In the seventh minute of stoppage time, the Thornhill defence was over stretched and Greg Hale plunged over for a try.

The referee informed the Blackbrook players that the game was over, making the successful conversion from Hewitt academic.

The Thornhill players were stunned. Their place in the play-off final has been snatched from them at the death.