Stamford School First XV had one foot in the quarter final of the NatWest National Cup when the door was cruelly slammed in the last minute of an enthralling encounter.
A score by Warwick School with the last play of the game meant a 22-22 draw saw Stamford out of the competition on the away team rule.
Stamford started brilliantly and following great work from skipper Connor Collett and Henry Charlton, George Cox crashed under the posts. Crellin converted.
The home side defended brilliantly and always looked in control at the breakdown. The referee lost patience with Warwick and Crellin coolly slotted over a penalty.
At 10-0 with a minute to go until the half Stamford were pinged and a missed tackle allowed Warwick to go over in the corner.
This fired the home side into life and the forwards led by Angus Collett, Josh Allen and Chris Lipscombe continually found holes.
Jamie Richardson directed traffic brilliantly and was able to find a small hole in the fringes as he danced through to school.
Despite dominance up front two moments of panic followed and having had the run of the game Warwick picked up 12 points in 5 minutes both from charged down kicks.
Lesser sides may have lost the plot at that point, but Stamford’s First XV has not lost at home in three and a half years and that clearly provoked a reaction from the players.
Knowing the draw was enough, Warwick continued to give away penalties and play territory. Charlie Dunbar, Ralph Offer and Henry Hives continued to find holes and Charlton and Groom and co drove closer and closer.
Again Warwick were penalised and Archie Toseland smashed over with 2 minutes to go. The conversion sailed agonisingly wide.
With time up on the clock, the visitors launched one last attack.
Despite a series of reset scrums and pile ups Stamford could just not get their hands on the ball and following an 18 man pile up on the line the referee raised his arm and awarded a try to make it 22-22.
Stamford coach David Laventure said he was proud of his players. He said: “The guys played some great rugby and were the better team for 69 of 71 minutes.
“They found out the hard way that if you don’t manage pressure at key times, your mistakes will cost you.
“They showed magnificent character all game, and although they are gutted now, they will learn from the experience and be better for it.”