WOMENS RUGBY: THURROCK’S T-Birds came up agonisingly short against a committed Aylesford side who now take Thurrock’s Premier League slot for the next two seasons.

Having come from behind three times and leading the match in the second half, T-birds concede a try in the dying minutes and found themselves relegated to womens rugby’s second tier – the Championship.

T-Birds had been sluggish from the off and repeatedly lost the ball in contact to Aylesford. Within four minutes Aylesford were 5-0 up. Despite being second best in the scrum, T’s lineout was supreme and from a powerful catch and drive, Gael Marcassus brought Thurrock level.

Minutes later they were behind again to a penalty, but once again the catch and drive was successful for Marcassus and T-Birds finally led the game.

Thurrock looked strong until a breakaway by the Aylesford’s New Zealand 12 Waru saw Ts once again behind at half time 10-13.

After the break the referee lost patience with Aylesford and waved a card and sin-binned a player.

Making best use of the extra player, Thurrock finally managed to complete a backs move without missing a pass or dropping a ball and winger Rebecca Prosser put Ts back into the lead, 15-13.

Despite losing T-Birds star Jo Convoy for 10 minutes in the bin, Thurrock dominated for 30 minutes, finally getting some parity in the scrum as their opponents’ big forwards tired.

And Emily Scott pinned Aylesford in their own half and Thurrock looked to be close to scoring. Unfortunately for Thurrock, the referee once again gave Aylesford the ball and they made it into Thurrock territory. A good kick through that resulted in a messy ruck again led to an Aylesford penalty and the quick thinking of Waru saw them over the line.

Now behind 15-18, T-Birds camped on the Aylesford line as the clock ticked down – but to no avail.

Due to the impending Women’s Rugby World Cup and the extended absence of the Senior England players, there is no promotion or relegation from next year’s Premier League, so Thurrock T-Birds will have to make do with Championship Rugby for two seasons.