Captain Crouch achieves lifelong dream as Old Alleynians win at Twickenham

Old Alleynians RFC captain Gill Crouch reflected on a lifelong dream come true after his side claimed the Papa Johns Men’s Counties One Community Cup with an emphatic 34-7 victory over Harlow.

Tries from Tommy Williams, Rory Simpson, Will Lawrence, Rory Holford and Josh Winduss saw the North Londoners home in the final day of Papa Johns Community Cup action.

Harlow scored a try of their own through Louis Castiglione but it was not enough to fluster an inspired Old Alleynians side.

Speaking after Twickenham glory, Crouch said: “It’s a lifelong dream. It’s unbelievable and a brilliant a way to top off our season.

“We wanted to win the league and this is the cherry on top. It’s unreal really.

“It’s been a hell of a year, a hell of a team and that’s why everybody gets on so well, that’s why we’re here. It’s been my favourite year of rugby ever..”

Over 500 clubs entered 29 Papa Johns Community Cup competitions across the women’s and men’s game in the inaugural season of a tournament. The competition was brought in to create a crescendo to the end of the grassroots calendar following player feedback indicating a preference to condense the league season and create a cup competition after the regular league season had ended.

The pressure came early from Old Alleynians on Sunday and despite some dogged defending from Harlow, they could not stop a wonderful flowing move.

After going through the phases, the ball went wide to Williams from a fantastic floating miss pass and he finished coolly in the corner.

That lead was extended later in the opening 40 minutes, when Old Alleynians spent time camped in the Harlow 22, resulting in multiple penalties.

The north Londoners went to the corner and executed their driving maul to perfection, resulting in hooker Simpson bundling over to take the half-time score to 13-0.

A try from Lawrence extended that lead further to 20-0, with Old Alleynians seemingly dominating all of the battles in front of their incredible vocal supporters, who Crouch paid tribute to after their triumphant victory.

“The support has been class this whole year, especially in the Papa Johns Community Cup,” said Crouch.

“We’ve been quite fortunate with the home games, so we’ve had a good contingent and it’s nice to give back to supporters and everyone involved at the club with a good day out at Twickenham.”

Harlow did get one of their own back through Castiglione to briefly threaten a comeback and give their supporters plenty to cheer about.

Old Alleynians found a second wind just when it mattered though and two quick scores from winger Holford and Winduss, who also added two excellent conversions, put the game out of Harlow’s reach.

“We’ve put in a performance each of the cup rounds, but we haven’t done the full 80 and have dropped off for 15/20,” said Crouch.

“It started happening again and Harlow were coming back into it, but we took hold of it again and it’s the first time we put in that full 80.

“The boys were all playing for each other, and it came together on the right day. It’s a dream come true.”

For a round up of Papa Johns Community Cup Final action and to watch the games back follow @RFU Twitter and #PapaJohnsCommunityCup

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