STAMFORD Town RFC won the NLD Shield on Sunday to claim a superb sixth title in three magnificent seasons.
Division Three Town came from behind to beat higher league Ashbourne 15-8, winning a tough and exciting final at Kesteven on Sunday.
Tries from Harry Offer and Robbie Smith, and a Laurent Ross penalty secured the triumph, which at 8-0 down in the first half looked far from likely.
Stamford skipper Oli Story said: “That was a tough game. We were a bit rusty but I am proud of the way the guys came back into the contest.
“We were all disappointed on just missing out on promotion but this a great way to round things off.”
Story’s men dominated the early exchanges but mistakes in possession let Ashbourne off the hook.
The favourites, playing their league rugby one level higher in the Midland 2 East (North) division, showed their hand early on, using the wind to camp in the attacking half.
James Green, Luke Cripps and Chris Fletcher made heroic tackles close to the line but eventually Steve Mezenko crashed over to give Ashbourne the lead.
Just minutes later, Stamford were caught offside, conceded a penalty and at 8-0 it didn’t look promising.
But Stamford’s back row grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and turned things round.
Adam Rimmer, Jack Eifion-Jones and Tom Gulland were inspirational, stealing ball after ball, and making inroads into Ashbourne territory.
Clever play from half backs Matt Albinson and Robbie Smith took the play to a 5m scrum just before half time and Offer stormed under the posts from a well worked move.
Stamford were right back on the game and the second half was a much different game with Town benefiting from an increased tempo as the game swung from end to end.
Story, James Ragg and Julian Criddle got on the front foot, carrying and clearing before Smith was able to tip toe through untouched to dot down Stamford’s second try.
Town started to exert more pressure but great breaks just finished short or were halted by Ashbourne infringements at the breakdown.
Laurent Ross popped over a penalty at one end and then produced tackle of the day under his own posts to hold the ball up, stopping a certain seven pointer.
As the clock ticked by Ashbourne threw everything they could at the Stamford line but a great defensive effort in the last ten, particularly from Angus Green, John Murphy and Bruce Parker allowed Ashbourne only a solitary penalty, leaving Stamford 15-8 winners at the whistle.
Coach David Laventure said: “The players commitment and defence were outstanding. It was a shame that we didn’t really play our best attacking rugby but it’s a final and it’s not performance that counts.
“We have now beaten quite a few sides from the league above us which should give the guys great heart ahead of next season. But for now, six trophies in three seasons – the guys are starting to get used to it. They should all be immensely proud.”
Stamford: James Green, Oli Story, Julian Criddle, James Ragg, Luke Cripps, Tom Gulland, Jack Eifion-Jones, Adam Rimmer, Robbie Smith, Matthew Albinson, Frank Wiese, Chris Fletcher, Harry Offer, Rich Thompson, Laurent Ross, Bruce Parker, John Murphy, Angus Green, Russell Harriss, Patrick Chuter, Chris McLaren, Dan Griffin.