Holt 33 Crusaders 29: Leaders score from final play to clinch dramatic win

Holt man-of-the-match Ollie Woodrow, who is off to Australia on a rugby scholarship Picture: MARTYN

Holt man-of-the-match Ollie Woodrow, who is off to Australia on a rugby scholarship Picture: MARTYN SLOMAN - Credit: Archant

Holt had won their previous seven games and started as the clear favourites against a team enjoying a mixed season.

But in the end the leaders were mightily relieved to snatch a narrow win, and one that was achieved with the last play of the game.

It was immediately evident that Holt would have a game on their hands as Crusaders centre Greg Thurston caught an accurate kick to cross the line, with Rob Loone converting. Ten minutes later Holt replied with a Geoff Flather try that James Wyatt converted and an exciting contest of free-flowing rugby seemed in prospect. However, the pattern changed when Crusaders lost a key forward following a red card after an off-the ball scuffle.

The visitors then played a narrow but effective game round the rucks and were the next to score through No 8 Callum Widdrington following some crisp inter-passing, with Loone again converting. Wyatt and Loone then exchanged penalties before, on the stroke of half-time, Thurston added a second try to put his side 12 points ahead.

Holt's half-time team talk appeared to have some effect. They began to distribute to the wider channels and were rewarded with a fine try, wing Ollie Woodrow scoring in the corner. Holt then began to take control but, against the run of play, the excellent Thurston intercepted a pass and ran 75 metres to score under the posts, with Loone again converting.

Two quick tries then clawed back some of the deficit: the first by Wyatt and a second by substitute Robbie Batley, Neither was converted and Holt remained four points behind at 25-29 with time running out.

A tired Crusaders team, who had played valiantly with 14 men, starting conceding regular penalties, with Holt running the ball on every occasion. They were rewarded when vice-captain Robbie Gray powered over from short range, giving Wyatt his easiest conversion. Holt were ahead for the first time and the referee immediately blew his whistle, with a plucky Crusaders side having been pipped at the post.

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Woodrow was Norfolk Brewhouse man of the match in his last game for the club for a year as he heads to Australia on a rugby scholarship.