Extra-time drama before Harborough win play-off

Timmy Waterfield scored an extra-time try to seal victory for Market Harborough. Picture courtesy of Andrew Cooper
Timmy Waterfield scored an extra-time try to seal victory for Market Harborough. Picture courtesy of Andrew Cooper

Market Harborough will be playing in Midlands One next season after a tense and dramatic play-off saw them edge out Dronfield 25-21.

They had to overcome a red card and a large first-half deficit before battling back to claim an extra-time success.

Harborough’s director of rugby Richard Bowden described the match as ‘the most tense ending to a season imaginable’ but the day ended in joy as they held on to win.

An early sending-off left the home side facing the majority of the match with only 14 men and they trailed 6-0 to two Dronfield penalties before Jake Fordham’s try pulled them back.

However, a score for the visitors put them back in control with a 13-5 lead at half-time.

Despite being a man down in the pack, Harborough were still dominating the set-piece which gave them hope of a comeback.

With the wind behind them, they managed to put together several good phases and a converted try by Harvey Slade along with eight points from the boot of Laurence Joel kept the scoreboard ticking over.

However, this was countered by another score for Dronfield which left the match tied 18-18 at the end of normal time.

Chris Bale went very close to snatching victory just before the final whistle but added time was required.

A Dronfield penalty made it 21-18 with the second period still to play and the Harborough forwards continued to push their visitors back.

Eventually Timmy Waterfield barrelled over to score a try converted by Joel which edged them in front 25-21.

The drama was not over, though.

Back came Dronfield and they laid seige to the Harborough line.

Reduced to 13 men for the final play of the game, it needed a mammoth defensive effort to keep the men from north Derbyshire out.

Facing a scrum on their own five-metre line, the six men of Harborough’s pack pushed back the eight of Dronfield and the game was up.

Bowden said: “(It was) a fantastic game of rugby.

“Full of nail-biting action, close calls, controversy and massive amounts of effort and commitment from both sides.”

To cap a fine weekend for the club, the under-16s picked up the County Cup with a 29-22 success over Loughborough.

Like the first-team, it needed a strong defensive effort at the end as Loughborough fought back from 29-10 down in the second half but they held out to secure the trophy in their last outing in junior rugby.

The Colts will now be looking to follow suit when they face Syston at Welford Road on Tuesday night.