Sport

Rugby League Joy For REME Who Lift 2018 Lawson Cup

They defeated the Royal Engineers, who were also beaten finalists last season.

The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) have been crowned Army rugby league champions by winning the Lawson Cup against the Royal Engineers.

The summer heatwave meant the pitch at the Army rugby stadium had been tinder dry and rigid as rock underfoot in the build-up to this clash, but a concerted effort from ground staff contributed to it raining tries in this year's final. 

There was little give in the REME defence, typified by an early hit by Colin Mackenzie on Gavin Nicholl from the Royal Engineers. Nicholl did well to get to his feet but was ushered to the touchline for a routine once over.

On the front foot, the REME went in for the opening try - skipper Jamie Laing crossing at the corner for an unconverted score.

Having been up against it for the opening period of the match the Engineers hit back. A scorching run from Sappers winger Tom Lloyd concluded with a converted try and a 6-4 lead.

Sappers winger Tom Lloyd concluded with a converted try and a 6-4 lead
Sappers winger Tom Lloyd scores a converted try.

Lloyd added a second try to extend the Engineers advantage before the REME roared back. Peter Holmes was hauled down short of the line but teammate Uraia Vaulusala was on hand to crash over for an unconverted try.

It was turning into an enthralling encounter and two more tries were scored before the break. REME struck first attacking deep into Sapper territory. Nashville Ram blasted his way through the defence to re-establish the lead. 

However, the Sappers once again muscled their way back in front. Precision passing and powerful play put them on the REME line. Two phases later Ernest Petueli buried his way over and the Engineers enjoyed a 16-14 half-time advantage.

Having missed out on a try in the first half this scoring opportunity was elementary for Holmes after the break. Bursting free he went under the posts for a converted score and a four-point lead.

The REME followed that with another try soon after - fullback Jefeti Vakalalabure displaying his finishing instincts to ground the ball despite the close attention of his opposite number.

However, you write this Royal Engineer side off at your peril. Petueli cantered in for his second try to cut the deficit to 24-20.

The drama continued, as Vakalalabure smashed a path to the try line as the REME looked to put the game beyond their rivals.

Vakalalabure smashed a path to the try line
Vakalalabure after smashing a path to the try line.

Then Laing added a late penalty as the REME stretched the lead to 32-20. 

Beaten finalists last season, the Engineers were not going to go down without a fight, though.

Petueli went over for his hat-trick of tries. That made it 32-24 with just 4 minutes to play.

Could the Engineers keep the momentum and record a famous victory? They piled forward and Marc Capper's effort set up a frantic final minute.

Trailing by just two points they were still in possession at the final hooter. However, a fumble on the ball meant it was the REME who jumped for joy.

Afterwards, an exhausted skipper paid tribute to his victorious side:

"The sweat, blood and tears, the grafting on and off the pitch and in the back lines, everybody has really come together and really wanted it this year."

The result leaving REME to lift the Lawson Cup for 2018.