Crows move step closer to Twickenham finale

Jonathan Brain holds off a challenge. Picture: Tim Boyce

Jonathan Brain holds off a challenge. Picture: Tim Boyce - Credit: Archant

Mick Jones’ Royston took a step closer to Twickenham, claiming a terrific London and South East Junior Vase semi-final victory in Essex on Saturday.

Theo Pow notched a brace, while Josh Brock and John Brain added the Crows’ other two tries to see them fight back from 24-17 down to progress.

Royston will face South Croydon side Old Whitgiftians in the final at The Heath on March 18.

Should they win that clash they would just be one win from facing the northern finalists at England’s home of rugby.

Royston started well with some powerful ball-carrying putting the Crows into a good position, setting Pow up to score the first try of the game.

In the first scrum after the restart, Royston looked to have the advantage but Maldon maintained possession, striking back against Royston and scoring a try of their own.

Royston soaked up sustained pressure by Maldon and following a well-executed line-out, Jacob Boyce broke the line, and offloaded creating the chance for Brock to score.

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Celebrations were short-lived as Maldon once again broke through, scoring and converting to give the home side the lead.

Minutes later, Brain scored following an excellently-sold dummy, Ben Ritsema converting, leaving the score 17-12 in Royston’s favour at half-time.

Maldon started the second half by levelling the score and 10 minutes later a deft chip and chase saw the hosts pick up another try giving them the lead again for 24-17.

The two sides battled it out for another 10 minutes until a powerful scrummage by Royston saw the ball go loose and Pow dive over for his second try.

As the clock ticked on, great phase play saw Royston pick up an advantageously-placed penalty, allowing Ritsema to put more points on the board and give the Crows a three-point lead.

In the closing moments of the game Lee Gilbert, who had been instrumental throughout, intercepted a Maldon pass and kicked down-field, forcing an error that gave Royston another chance at the posts.

Ritsema coolly slotted the kick over.

The last few minutes of the match had the crowd on tenterhooks as Maldon looked to come back but Royston held on.

The Crows will face Old Whitgiftians in the London & South East Final, at The Heath, on March 18.