ABERGAVENNY lifted the WRU National Bowl after the most dramatic of final victories against Oakdale at the Principality Stadium, writes Carl Field.

Simon Williams’ side trailed 23-8 with the game approaching the final quarter but, after battling their way back to 23-20 down, were awarded a penalty in front of the posts at the death.

But, with no extra-time, the trophy would have been shared had they kicked it with the match level on tries. Instead, Abergavenny opted for a scrum and, after going through countless phases, wing Anthony Squire crossed to snatch the trophy.

Ironically Squire – who only yesterday returned from a stag do in Bali, was also the last-play hero in the semi-final against Bridgend Sports when he ran the length of the field to score.

“He’s made of different stuff to what I am,” joked veteran Abergavenny player-coach Nathan Thomas – the 43-year-old former Wales back-rower and 1998 Heineken Cup winner with Bath.

“The boys backed themselves at the end, which is what we’ve done all year. We’ve had so many close games and nail-biters.

“I don’t know where the belief comes from but there’s something in our team this year that just never gives up.

“The inner self belief that these boys have is just absolutely incredible.

“We could have kicked and shared the trophy but the boys were brave on the field and it was a phenomenal decision to make.”

Oakdale drew first blood in the 11th minute through full-back Kyle Tudge after the ball was spun from right to left. The conversion was missed by outside half Simon Veall.

Abergavenny then lost left wing Jacob Butler following a bang to the head and he was replaced by Nathan Byrne.

Full-back Nathan Williams got Abergavenny on the scoreboard in the 23rd minute with a penalty and, nine minutes later, they were over for their first try and it was that man Byrne who dived over in the corner after centre James Lewis’ offload. The try went unconverted.

However, it was Oakdale who would take an 11-8 lead into the break with Veall twice splitting the posts.

There was nearly a second Oakdale try just before the interval, but wing Gavin Price was knocked into touch as he went for the line a minute before the break.

Veall missed with two more efforts from the tee after the break but he did score Oakdale’s second try in the 55th minute, turning inside and then out before running through and diving over. He converted to make it 18-8.

Their third try arrived in the 58th minute, with hooker Matthew Davies barging his way over, although the conversion was missed by Veall.

But, just when it looked as though Oakdale were pulling away, Byrne was sent away for his second try from Lewis’ pass on the hour. Williams’ conversion was just wide.

A third Abergavenny try in the 71st minute, scored by replacement Dan Horler and converted by Williams, pulled them back to within three points at 23-20 down to set up a frantic finale.

Oakdale lost Thomas to the sin bin for a no arms tackle and they could not hold out under relentless pressure, with Squire’s try sparking jubilant scenes. Williams added the extras.

Abergavenny: N Williams; A Squire, J Evans, J Lewis, J Butler; R Webster, R Connick; J Admans, I James (capt), R Lothian, W Evans, N Thomas, R Dawe, D Beavan, J Davies.

Reps: C Price, G Williams, A Howes, D Smith, M Charles, L Evans, D Horler, N Byrne.

Scorers: Tries: N Byrne (2), D Horler, A Squire; Cons: N Williams (2); Pen: N Williams

Oakdale: K Tudge; G Price, J Williams, J Thomas, C Jenkins; S Veall, C Jenkins; J Jones, M Davies, M Dowden, G Hockey, C Wilson, S Evans, K Ennis (capt), J Wall.

Reps: D Tovey, R Barrett, D Evans, G Davies, R Meyrick Parker, R Vaughan, S Dixon, S Kerby.

Scorers: Tries: K Tudge, S Veall, M Davies; Con: S Veall; Pens: S Veall (2)

Star man: Nathan Thomas (Abergavenny)