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Your News Millwall 53 - Thames 20
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APR

MILLWALL Rugby Club won the Essex President’s Shield on Sunday (April 19), crowning what has been the club’s greatest ever season.

The team were named undefeated Essex Division Two champions in March and earlier this month the team defeated East London to claim the Essex League Cup.

In reaching Sunday’s final, which was played at Ilford Wanderers’ ground, the Isle of Dogs men had defeated five Essex One sides, and the last victory of the season proved to be emphatic.

The team brushed aside a physically bigger Thames outfit and notched up more than 50 points with an exhibition of exciting attacking moves and a brutal defensive line.

Coach David Leftley said after the victory: “That was absolutely fantastic. This has been a wonderful end to a dream season. We just did what we’ve been doing all along – recycling quick ball at the breakdown and getting the ball to our exceptional back line.

“I’m so proud of all the players – this has been a great effort all round and I commend them for their dedication and commitment. Our supporters were absolutely superb and their raucous cheering spurred us on until the final whistle.”

Thames drew first blood in the match, making Millwall pay for some early indiscipline and converting a penalty from in front of the posts. But five minutes later the red, white and blacks scored a blistering try.

Under pressure from a sloppy line out on the Thames 22, scrum half and skipper Brent McMillan fired off a perfect 20 metre reverse pass to fly half Dom Sutherland. The ball was swept along the backline to winger Dan Lawrence who rounded his man before cutting back inside with a beautiful step and touching down under Thames’ posts.

Sutherland converted and after that play leant heavily in Millwall’s favour. Thames secured a fair amount of ball in the middle of the pitch, but their centres and wingers appeared hesitant when looking to pierce the defence.

Millwall’s man of the match, centre Louis Newton, had his best game of the season, marshalling the tight midfield defence and intimidating any would be attackers with a series of high impact tackles that can only be described as brutal.

He said after the game: “Tackling is the thing I enjoy most – I hope I gave the fans what they wanted and a little bit more.”

Millwall opened up a number of scoring chances by passing the ball wide and routinely found space outside the despairing Thames fullback. Only a number of forward passes stopped the team from scoring more.

But tries kept coming, with veteran flanker Daryl Gera popping up to round off a flowing move to score under Thames’ posts.

The shaken Thames players rallied either side of half time to claim two consolation tries, but Millwall never really let up. In the second half they ran away with the lead, with hulking centre James Reilly juggling the ball before touching down at the end of an exciting move started by Dom Sutherland who had dummied his way past two defenders before offloading in the tackle.

The icing on Millwall’s cake was the final flourish provided by right wing Naz Mohammed. He picked up the ball on the halfway line, stepped two would be tacklers, and then faced with a wall of defenders, he chipped ahead. He raced to gather his own kick, won a footrace against the covering defenders and picked up the ball to touch down and complete an exultant victory.

* Pic to follow

* Elsewhere in the club the second team, known as ‘the Llamas’, made it a league and cup double, defeating Bancroft second team in the BL Merit Table Division Three Cup.

* Millwall’s Festival of Rugby is being held at Mudchute Park Farm this weekend (April 25).

The day begins at 10am and will include exhibition games for the youth sides and the women’s team, as well as the annual men’s England versus the Rest of the World game.

There will also be a bar, music, face painting for children and a barbecue. First team captain Brent McMillan said: “It’s a great day for the whole club and the community to come together in a social atmosphere with friends and family to celebrate what has been a fantastically successful season for everyone involved.”

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