Worcestershire & Herefordshire retained the Iskitz Three Counties Championship with a 21-15 win over Greater Birmingham in today’s final at Edwardians’ Streetsbrook Road ground.
The Two Counties were made to work hard for their win by a Greater Birmingham side who were playing a competitive match for the first time in two years, and were relieved to hear the final whistle.
Greater Birmingham thought they had scored when Camp Hill number eight Rob Hill drove over from a five metres scrum in injury-time but the try was disallowed because of a knock-on.
W&H were then penalised for dissent which gave Greater Birmingham a penalty which they opted to scrum. This time the defending champions managed to repel the attack and scramble the ball into touch to secure a breathless win.
There was little to choose between the sides throughout although the accurate goalkicking of W&H full-back Sam Hopkins proved decisive.
Hopkins (Evesham) kicked three first half penalties and also converted a try from his captain and number eight Jay Martin (Old Halesonians) which came from a sustained attack.
In between Hopkins’ first two penalties Greater Birmingham blindside flanker and captain Adam Lee (Old Saltleians) went over for a try that fly-half Tom Fleming (Camp Hill) converted.
Fleming also landed a penalty on the stroke of half-time which pegged the champions back to a six points lead at the interval although that soon increased when Woodrush openside flanker Josh Tomlinson rounded off a flowing move.
This time Hopkins was unable to add the conversion but the 11 points cushion proved just enough for W&H to retain their title despite coming under siege in the final quarter.
Scrum-half James Pritchard (Old Yardleians) put Greater Birmingham in with a sniff of victory when he nipped over from a quickly-taken tap penalty but Fleming was unable to add the conversion.
Hill was also held up over the ine and came agonisingly close to levelling the scores when he knocked on crossing the line.
The Iskitz Three Counties Championship is contested annually by the Three Domestic Unions which make up the North Midlands RFU. The group stage is played on a round-robin basis with the top two teams in the group contesting the final.