Extra-time Bonwick try seals dramatic Manx Cup for Ramsey

Thursday 19th May 2022 5:18 pm
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Ramsey Rugby Club celebrate winning the Ravenscroft Manx Cup after beating Vagabonds 36-31 at Mooragh Park on Saturday (Photo: Tony Lloyd-Davies)

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Anyone with concerns about the state of domestic rugby in the Isle of Man should have been at Mooragh Park on Saturday for the finals of the Ravenscroft Manx Cup and Plate.

Emerging Nomads took the Plate when they survived a Ramsey B fightback to win by only seven points, while Ramsey beat Sure Vagabonds 36-31 in the Cup after extra-time was needed when the two finished 26-26 at the end of normal time.

Bonwick wins Ravenscroft Manx Cup for Ramsey

Ramsey, on their home ground with a big crowd and an unbeaten record, were the overwhelming favourites in the Cup final.

But they weren’t prepared for the side order of gritty determination which Vagabonds brought to the table and saw the sides locked together 26-26 at full-time and sent the match into extra-time.

In the end though, it was Dan Bonwick who snatched the winner only four minutes away from a drop goal shootout.

Ramsey opened the scoring four minutes in when Richmond quickly tapped a five-metre penalty and dived in under the Vagabonds posts. He converted his own score for a 7-0 lead.

Four minutes later Ramsey wing Danny Howard broke clear down the right wing and, while Cam Findlay ended Howard’s run, he couldn’t prevent a floated offload to Bonwick who raced in for his first of the game and a 12-0 lead.

Vagas then came to the party. Luca Simmons kicked intelligently for field position and earned a 50/22. Vagas shortened their line out and secured a catch and drive which earned some yards and indicated that their set piece was effective.

On 15 minutes they earned a line out five metres from the Ramsey line and used the same move. Ethan Kermode secured the ball and the forwards rumbled over the line, with prop Luke Purdy getting the touch down.

Midway through the half Ramsey extended their lead. Howard was again the line breaker but this time he had a little more operating space and his speed allowed him to outflank the Vagas defence to make it 19-5 which is how it stayed until half-time.

Five minutes into the second half, Vagas turned the screw and a string of penalties saw Ramsey skipper Matt Meechan sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.

Ramsey turned over the Vagas ball from the ensuing penalty and, with the ball heading towards Bonwick’s boot, it looked like the danger was over. But it skidded off the outside of his foot and went high and right to the edge of the 22.

Hope Chirengwa and Howard both went for the high ball and Chirengwa’s running line saw him catch the ball cleanly without breaking stride and gave him a simple run in. Simmons converted to leave Vagas very much in touch at 19-12.

Still a man down, it was Ramsey’s turn to attack. Eddie Lord and Adam Dunlop both carried well in midfield but it was prop Rory Nicholson who made the big inroads inside the Vagas 22 and got to within one yard of the try line.

As Ramsey struggled to apply the finishing touch, referee Daryn Thompson spotted some jiggery pokery in the ruck and awarded Ramsey a penalty try which took the lead up to 26-12.

As an hour ticked by, Vagas made some changes which almost immediately took effect as Nathan Gibson came on at number eight, Matty Williams at nine and Will Taylor at 10.

Gibson carried as impressively as ever, Williams fizzed the ball away from the base and Taylor pulled the strings with Simmons just outside him for kicking options.

In the 64th minute Taylor’s perfectly-weighted flat pass back inside found centre Ross McCulloch at ramming speed and he punched through the Ramsey back line to score. Simmons converted to bring Vagas to within a score at 26-19.

Richmond missed a penalty for Ramsey with 10 to go but, as the minutes ticked away, the real pressure was coming at the other end as the Vagas set piece scrummage was starting to fire and Ramsey found themselves under the cosh.

They held out until the 79th minute when a series of scrummages and penalties within five metres of the line led to a penalty try for Vagas and a tied game which meant 10 minutes each way of extra-time.

Two minutes into period one, Ramsey took the lead when Kieran Kneale broke clear down the left wing and he found Fintan Cummins in support. Cummins needed no second invitation and he finished to the delight of the home support.

The excitement was short-lived though as three minutes later Taylor swept the ball to Vagas’ left flank where McCulloch dived in for his second to level the score at 31-31.

Vagas had a chance right at the end of the first period but Simmons’ long-range penalty fell just short.

Four minutes into period two with Ramsey on the attack, it was Vagas’ turn to suffer some discipline issues.

Nathan Gibson killed off a Ramsey ruck from the side and was shown a yellow card. From the next play, Mark Oldfield’s elbow was a little high for referee Thompson’s liking and he got one too.

Missing two back rowers meant a Ramsey score was almost inevitable and it was Bonwick who got it. A close-range run saw him use every dance move in his book to skip through the defence for the cup-winning try.

A late yellow for Cam Findlay saw Vagas finish the game with 12 men and missing three key men left the remaining players with too much of a mountain to climb.

Results from Saturday, May 14:

Ravenscroft Manx Plate Final

Ramsey B 25-32 Emerging Nomads

Ravenscroft Manx Cup Final

Ramsey 36-31 Sure Vagabonds (after extra time).

Full report and pictures from the Plate final in this week’s Manx Independent.

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