TWICKENHAM-BOUND Trowbridge will return to South West level rugby next season after a battling display earned them a 27-19 victory over Aylesbury in Saturday's Southern Counties promotion play-off at Doric Park.
Trowbridge, who will face Staffordshire side Leek in next Sunday's RFU Intermediate Cup final at the home of English rugby, secured a return to level six rugby for the first time since the 2009-10 season despite trailing for most of the match.
Steve Ojomoh's home side were forced to battle back from a 14-0 deficit during the course of the match, but their superior forward power eventually ground down the Buckinghamshire men.
Aylesbury, who finished as runners-up in Southern Counties North to set up the play-off against the home side, who finished similarly in Southern Counties South, were quicker out of the blocks in each half and, while Trowbridge were not at their fluent best, the desire that has been a hallmark of their campaign bore fruit again.
A low-key opening was enlivened early on as Aylesbury skipper Gary Horne was sin-binned for an ugly high tackle on home scrum-half Tom Weaver, Trowbridge flanker Barry Coombs also seeing yellow for his act of retaliation.
The visitors though wre in the ascendancy, flanker Adam Bown breaking through but being unable to link up with teammates, before Aylesbury deservedly took the lead as the midway point of the half approached.
The forwards piled on the pressure and centre Mike Durose piled over by the posts, James Woodfall adding the relatively simple conversion.
Three minutes later, Aylesbury doubled their lead as the forwards rumbled forwards from a lineout and lock Jim Dodds claimed the touchdown, Woodfall adding the extras with panache in what were difficult kicking conditions.
Trowbridge had been sluggish and lethargic up until that point, falling off tackles and coughing up cheap possesion.
But they finally got on the board just after the half hour mark as the forwards enjoyed a spell of pressure and prop Lee Fairclough eventually bounced off tackles to reach the line.
Lloyd Davis was unable to add a difficult conversion, but the home side cut the gap further with a brilliant try minutes later.
The elusive running of full-back Jackson Szabo left the defence for dead up the touchline and his perceptive inside pass found winger James Davies. Davies was closed down but threw an equally impressive pass inside for Coombs to take and claim the score.
The game looked finely poised heading into the second period, but once again, Trowbridge were slow out of the blocks.
Aylesbury swarmed forward and the hosts ran out of men as Woodfall claimed the try out wide.
Staring at the end of their promotion dream, Trowbridge rolled up their sleeves and worked the hard yards upfield.
Davis missed a long-range penalty shot in the wind but the pack were starting to exert their authority.
A spell of extended pressure yielded its reward as Aylesbury repeatedly offended close to their line, referee Brian Perry losing patience and awarding the penalty try that Davis converted.
That set up a grandstand final 10 minutes and the decisive moment arrived courtesy of an Aylesbury error. Overthrowing a lineout, Trowbridge prop Sean Jones gathered and ploughed forward, the space being created out wide for Szabo's dancing feet to send him over in the corner.
Davis added a quite brilliant conversion from the touchline in gusty conditions and stretched the lead to eight with a penalty from in front of the posts soon afterwards.
Aylesbury returned to the front foot, but the home defence were in no mood to gift any further opportunities and Perry's whistle started another round of raucous celebrations.
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