MATT Cox’s penalty with the final kick of the match fired Rams into the semi-finals of the National Colts Cup with a nerve-jangling, heart-pounding 18-17 home win against gallant Ivybridge.
Things could not have started worse for the home team as they gifted a straight-forward penalty from the kick-off, pinged at the breakdown for Harry Newman-Wild to give his side the lead, before they took advantage of a mix-up in the backfield for Jake Bracher to hoover up a ball and touch down.
Newman-Wild made no mistake with conversion for a 10-0 lead inside five minutes, but Ivybridge then gave the hosts a helping hand by spilling a ball in midfield on the Rams’ 22.
Cox belted the ball long, and man-of-the-match Luke Thorpe showed great pace and composure to scoop up the loose ball and run under the posts.
The extras from Cox cut the deficit to three points, and the home side came on strong as the half progressed, firstly showing the power of their maul with a huge 20-metre shove from halfway.
The resultant penalty was kicked to the corner, but the set-piece was then held up over the line, a fate which struck again with the final action of the half.
Rams were then stopped just inches short early in the second stanza, but they kept on coming and after impressive No. 8 Cian Tappan was denied from close range, he took a quick tap penalty to burrow over and give the hosts a slender advantage.
Cox extended the lead to 15-10 with a 25-metre penalty which also resulted in Ivybridge having a player sin-binned for a high tackle, and they had two chances to take a stranglehold on the contest when Thorpe had space down the left, only for the ball to not make it his way.
Ivybridge refused to yield, though, and with five minutes remaining launched a ferocious charge, only to face some magnificent Rams defence.
It looked like the Devonians would cause home heartbreak with a minute to go, however, a penalty try and yellow card awarded for a high tackle near the try-line.
Yet Rams would not be denied, showing maturity beyond their years to go through phase after phase until Cox’s drop-goal attempt drifted wide.
However, a penalty had already been called and with Old Bath Road silent, he slotted the kick in the 10th minute of injury-time to blow the proverbial roof off the place and send his side into a last-four showdown with either Rosslyn Park or Dorking.