In a free-flowing game Trinity just failed to hold on, having been in the lead until the very end.
A bright start saw the home side weather an early attack and from good line out ball won by No. 8 George Daniels a strong carry by lock Dave Spedding set up a promising field position when Teddington knocked on. A powerful home scrum pushed the visitors back and while playing advantage they spread the ball left and then right to create space for young winger Max Mouna to mark his debut with a try after 4 minutes.
Trinity kept up the pressure and a burst through the middle by the indefatigable hooker, Adam Stammers set up an attacking scrum on the 22. Again the Trinity eight forced a penalty and from the resulting line out in the corner they mauled and recycled patiently to give lock Matt Shillabeer the opportunity to power his way over. Fly half Dan Crouch converted and the home tails were up at 12-0 after 7 minutes.
Teddington now came into the game more and, when a well worked move broke down with a knock-on, it seemed that the strong Trinity scrum would allow them to relieve the pressure. However, they failed to secure the ball at the back and Teddington nicked the ball to send fly half Bob Beevers in by the posts for a try which he converted. Trinity replied almost immediately when a good burst by skipper Ali Hall drove them deep into the visitors’ half. Stammers then took it on and set up a ruck from which almost the whole of the hosts’ back line was involved for a sparkling score by winger Tim Mash. The seesaw nature of the match continued with Teddington awarded a penalty on the 22, but the kick to the corner was overcooked and went dead. Trinity did not take advantage of this reprieve by trying to over-elaborate out of defence and Teddington forced two penalties from which they set up a powerful maul. Trinity were penalised for stopping this illegally and suffered the award of a penalty try against them and the loss of Shillabeer their most powerful forward, to a yellow card. However, the 14 men acquitted themselves admirably by getting the next score. A 7 man Trinity scrum forced their eight opponents back and won a penalty and another penalty led to a line out close in from which Daniels set up an excellent maul. From this the outstanding Stammers forced his way through. The conversion was missed but Trinity had an 8 point lead at 22-14 and a bonus point after only half an hour of play.
Sadly, once again they did not consolidate their lead. Beevers had been creating problems with his astute restarts and when Trinity dropped the ball the visitors capitalised by retaining possession well and creating space for hooker Tom Collett to score by the posts. Beevers’ conversion reduced the margin to a single point. Back came Trinity and flanker Alex Scott carried powerfully. The 14 men again defied the odds when good possession and recycling led to a fine try by another young debutant, Liam Sullivan at centre. Trinity led 27-21 at the interval.
Teddington made a lively restart and Trinity had to defend well, with centre Andy Dean showing the way with some resolute tackling. The visitors then had a man yellow-carded and Crouch kicked a fine long range penalty to extend the lead. It seemed, with half an hour left, that Trinity were now in charge. Scrum half Tom Sullivan produced a wonderful mazy run past several defenders. A clever kick ahead by Mouna set up a period of fierce pressure on the Teddington line. Trinity felt they must score but the ball was turned over on the line and cleared. Teddington were not done. Their pack, which had been outgunned earlier, managed to force a penalty at a scrum . Again they worked line out and maul well and flanker Rory Mercer got the touchdown. Beevers’ conversion reduced the deficit to 28-30 with the game entering a long period of injury time because of a number of stoppages.
Trinity seemed to have the game in the bag when Crouch kicked a penalty to extend the lead to 5 points and with a minute left on the clock they had good possession, the retention of which would have seen the game out. In letting the ball out however, they gave the visitors one last chance and a knock-on and a penalty later they were defending desperately in the corner. A fierce surge from the visitors was weathered and they knocked on, but the jubilant Trinity cries were silenced when they were called back for offside and Teddington patiently went through the phases of creating another copybook forward procedure. No.8 Alfie Ransom claimed the try and gave skipper Beevers the chance to win the game with the very last kick.
Trinity, having played so much rugby, with their young players so impressive, will wonder how they lost this match. Teddington showed real grit in never giving up.