THORNHILL TROJANS A staged a remarkable comeback to secure a useful 28-26 win on their travels to Eastmoor.
In a game marred by refereeing controversy, both sides were reduced in numbers, with a total of five sin-bins and two red cards.
The game – which was played in good spirits throughout – ended on a sour note when Eastmoor were denied what they believed to be a certain game-winning try.
Star of the show for Thornhill was man-of-the-match Luke Haigh, who scored a try of his own and had a hand in creating three more for the visitors.
Prop Adam Hoyle was another player in fine form as his devastating runs scattered the Eastmoor defence.
The game started in the worst possible manner for Thornhill, who were reduced to 12 men after just six minutes when Haigh was sent to the sin-bin for holding down.
Eastmoor took advantage of a penalty decision in their favour close to the Thornhill tryline, and a powerful run from Shaun Upson allowed the centre to go over for a try which Matthew Hayward converted.
On their next attack Eastmoor used the slope well to work the ball to winger Chris Boot, who went over in the corner for an unconverted try.
Once restored to 13 men Thornhill began to stage their first fightback of the game. A superb pass from stand-off Haigh unlocked the Eastmoor defence and sent Hoyle powering over from close range.
Tom Ripley converted to reduce the arrears.
Haigh was once again try creator when he kicked up the slope into the Eastmoor in-goal area, and Ripley read the situation perfectly to pounce for an unconverted try.
Just before half-time Thornhill failed to get distance on a clearing a kick and Eastmoor took advantage with Liam Green scoring in the corner.
Ashley Smith goaled to make it 16-10 to the hosts at the interval.
The visitors started the second half as they had the first, with a reduction in their numbers, first Jake Hickling and then Mindaugas Bendikas were sin-binned for holding down.
The second sin-binning was right on Thornhill’s line and Jacob Lord capitalised on the position to force his way over from close range. Hayward added the extras.
Eastmoor’s Michael Jadynak was then sin-binned for shoving, but despite this Eastmoor managed another try.
This time prop Hayward shrugged off some poor attempted tackles from Thornhill to go over for an unconverted try.
However, the game-changing moment came soon after when Eastmoor’s loose forward Joe Burns was sent off for a dangerous tackle.
This proved to be a key moment in the game and it triggered Thornhill’s second fight back.
Straight from the red card Haigh set off on a run down the slope which ended with him planting the ball between the posts. Ripley converted and the comeback was underway.
Thornhill were now on the front foot and Haigh once again broke away down the slope, this time Bendikas was up in support and he took the pass from Haigh and used his pace to complete the move. Ripley converted.
Dale Brook completed the Trojans’ scoring when he went over for a try just to the side of the posts which Ripley converted to give Thornhill the lead.
Then came the controversy, in the final moments of the game Eastmoor pressurised the visitor’s try line and Ashley Allman appeared to have forced himself over the try line and planted the ball down.
However, he was deemed to have been held up. Much to his disgust, and his protests saw him given a yellow card.
The full-time whistle blew – giving Thornhill a 28-26 victory – which only frustrated the home side further and Jadynak was given his marching orders when he spoke out of turn to the referee.