Luctonians 10 pts Dudley Kingswinford 9

A CAPTAIN'S try by Stuart Bemand in the last minute gave trophy holders Luctonians another dramatic victory in the North Midlands Cup final at Stourbridge RFC.

Last season Luctonians collected the cup for the first time and on that occasion it was also by a single point with a penalty deciding a 14-13 win over Whitchurch with three minutes of injury time remaining.

This time it was even closer and Dudley Kingswinford, who last lifted the cup with a victory over Hereford six years ago, must have thought they had seen off another Herefordshire side when a penalty took them 9-5 ahead after four minutes of injury time.

But Luctonians, who had been penned in their own half for most the of the second period, then showed their fighting spirit to hit back with a quick raid into Dudley territory followed by a series of driving mauls in the left-hand corner.

Two penalties were kicked for lineout ball and drives for the line, but both these were brought down with the second offence bringing a yellow card for Dudley flanker Ian Langford.

A third such offence would surely have brought a penalty try and this time Luctonians drove over for skipper and hooker Bemand to get the touch-down.

Dan Toms' conversion attempt drifted wide but soon after the final whistle heralded the return of the trophy to North Hereford-shire for a second year - together with a place in next season's Powergen National Trophy.

Luctonians' win was by two tries to three Dudley penalties and the sparsity of points reflected much of the play in a tense and closely-fought final.

Luctonians led 5-3 at half-time and those scores came in the first eight minutes of the game. Dudley fly-half Simon Fletcher kicked his side ahead from a straightforward penalty and Luctonians produced an immediate response.

A break by centre Mark Panniers took play deep into the Dudley half and scrum-half Ollie Williams followed up to dive over for a try in the right-hand corner, Toms' difficult conversion attempt going wide.

Fletcher missed a penalty for Dudley on 20 minutes, as did Toms on 40 minutes after Dudley second-row forward Shaun Griffiths was lucky to escape the sin-bin for a kicking offence.

In between there were few clear-cut scoring chances created from either side and a long-range penalty from Fletcher dropped under the bar.

Luctonians made a bright start to the second half when centre Ricki Helagi went close to scoring but after 15 minutes Fletcher kicked Dudley into a 6-5 lead with a well-taken penalty.

Although Dudley had lock Neil Shillingford sin-binned for a lineout offence, the Black Country side then put Luctonians under constant pressure and the game looked over when Fletcher landed his third penalty in the 44th minute of the second half.

This left Luctonians needing at least a try for victory with time running out and they dug deep into their resources for just that, with Bemand applying the finishing touch seven minutes later.