Harborough make history as they clinch the County Cup for the first time
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It had already been a decent season for Harborough after finishing in fourth place in Regional Two East Midlands.
But the 2022-23 campaign will now go down as one of the most memorable in the club’s history after they clinched a dramatic 42-41 victory over Oadby Wyggestonians in a pulsating County Cup final at Mattioli Woods Welford Road – the home of Leicester Tigers.
Harborough put out a strong team but were missing second row Jack Burrows who was unavailable with young Josh Ford stepping into the engine room of the pack.
The game couldn’t have started any better for Harborough as they took the lead when Tom Claffey went over in the left-hand corner after an incisive break from fly-half Monty Maule.
Within six minutes, the lead was extended when Jake Sterland broke from midfield to score close to the posts with the conversion making it 12-7.
Oadby responded with a converted try of their own and while Harborough did knock over a penalty, two more tries from Oadby gave them a 21-15 lead at half-time.
But Harborough wasted little time in trying to get back into things and Harvey Slade set up Claffey to make it 21-20.
It looked like things were slipping away, however, as a penalty and then another converted try put Oadby 31-20 up.
With 20 minutes to go, the game turned feisty with a yellow card for each team but Harborough didn’t give in and turned the game on its head.
They gave themselves belief when Joe Lafferty went over in the corner and Harborough continued to attack and they scored again when a Josh Purnell break and a one-handed offload saw Sterland dive over in the corner.
And the comeback was complete when Sam Staff crossed the whitewash to help put his team 35-34 up with five minutes remaining.
If that was good, better was to follow as a booming midfield tackle let to Tom Herdman to collect the ball and gallop in from 22 metres with Harry Durham stepping up to slot over what would prove to be a crucial conversion to make it 42-34.
Oadby didn’t lie down, however, and they scored another converted try to bring the game back to 42-41.
But that proved to be the final action of the match as Harborough and their supporters celebrated their historic victory.
It is turning into an incredible season for the club as a whole as the first-team’s cup success followed on from the Under-16 boys beating Leicester Forest 36-19 in their County Cup final last Sunday.
And then it was the turn of the Under-17s on Wednesday as they saw off Melton Mowbray 36-10 in the County Cup final at Leicester Lions.
But it’s not all over yet either as Harborough Colts take on Leicester Forest in the County League Final at Market Bosworth RFC on Saturday (4.30pm), looking to make it a memorable week.