Cheltenham Tigers Second XV edged past Hackney Gladies 36-22 in a thrilling Papa John’s Women’s Intermediate Cup final during an end of season celebration of grassroots rugby on Papa Johns Community Cup Finals Day.
A Millie Attwell hat-trick and further tries from Georgia Davey, Amelia Lavallee and Penny Bevan saw Tigers to a memorable day at HQ as their first XV also victorious in the Women’s Championship clash.
Hackney Gladies fought their way back into the game and scored four tries of their own through captain MC Dixon, Allie Nelkon and a brace from full-back Rachel Castola to set up a nail-biting finish.
Attwell began her Twickenham try-scoring feast in style, bursting through a tackle down the right, before going around another Gladies defender to get proceedings underway for Tigers.
Gladies did hit back quickly though, as Castola scored the first of her two tries with a smart finish in the corner.
That seemed to inspire Tigers as they began to build a lead, as second row Lavallee and No.8 Bevan crashed over, but Gladies landed the last blow before half time, with Castola again the recipient of a pass out wide and again she managed to find her way over for a score.
Attwell scored her second 15 minutes into the second half after Tara Godby’s quick tap, before Davey’s try and Howes’ subsequent conversion further extended the lead to 31-10.
The Gladies hit back though, and through winger Nelkon scored their third try to reduce the gap to 31-15, before Dixon sniped her way through a gap to reduce the deficit to just 31-22 with five minutes left.
Any threat of a potential comeback was quickly shut down however, as Attwell dived over to seal her hat-trick and victory for Cheltenham Tigers.
The Papa Johns Community Cup was created to provide a crescendo to the end of the grassroots season, keeping players engaged throughout the spring and giving clubs a chance to still compete for silverware regardless of how their league campaign went.
As well as winning a trophy, all 29 teams that win across the Papa Johns Community Cup games will automatically be entered in a prize to win a visit from a Red Roses’ coach and a free Papa Johns pizza order. Other teams who competed in the Papa Johns Community Cup competitions also have chance to win by submitting their best try from the competition.
Cheltenham Tigers Women second XV captain Tara Godby said: “It feels absolutely amazing, I am just so, so proud of the girls, it was a hard shift for 80 minutes, fair play to Hackney they really did test us there, but I am just so immensely proud of every single one of our players.
“It was touch and go for a minute out there, but I just said, let’s maintain it and do exactly what the Red Roses did and get that trophy, so I am so pleased.
“Walking out at Twickenham is just absolutely amazing, it is something you dream of as a little girl and having the opportunity to run out here is just absolutely second to none and alongside your best friends, what more could you ask for?!”
Over 500 clubs took part in 29 Papa Johns Community Cup competitions across the women’s and men’s game, with the home of England Rugby hosting the first set of finals.
The next set of Papa Johns Community Cup Finals days will held across the weekend of 6 and 7 May at Sixways, Twickenham, StoneX and Darlington Mowden Park.
For more about the Papa Johns Community Cup visit englandrugby.com/pjccup and follow @RFU Twitter and #PapaJohnsCommunityCup to keep across the action!