OLD Halesonians RFC won the league in style at Wassell Grove on Saturday, setting up a dream second promotion.

They did so in a repeat of last season’s winner-takes-all game against rivals Bournville, in front of a vocal 400-strong crowd. The game was a fiercely-fought contest with the spirited Hales players dominating a team of superior physical size with herculean defence and clinical attacking.

Hales started brightly with two Ben Smith penalties in the 10th and 14th minutes. The visitors launched some strong attacks but were continually thwarted by the Hales back row of Tristan Laga, Luke Gaynham and Jon Tideswell, who defended superbly to turn-over ball and keep the play in Hales’ favour. Additionally, despite some strong running from centres Jon Harris and James Tiarks, Hales were unable to score a valuable try and the score remained 6-0 at the break.

Disaster struck for the home side in the 52nd minute when Bournville scored a try in the corner following a sustained period of attack. The kick was missed by Bournville fly-half Matt Mountford, meaning Hales retained the narrowest of leads.

Hales responded excellently with Smith achieving good territory with the kick off. When the visitors handled the ball from the ensuing ruck, Hales opted for the posts, with Smith claiming his third penalty. Four minutes later, a scrum just outside the Bournville 22 gifted Hales a tantalising attacking opportunity. Attacking down the blind-side, Chris Wagstaff dummied, handed-off Bournville winger Ward, and rounded the full back Jonny Masogi to score a captain’s try. This effectively ended Bournville’s hopes of preventing Hales’ second championship in successive seasons as the realisation dawned that they would have to content themselves with second for the second year running. The visitors showed spirit to mount a late attack, but Hales’ fierce defence and camaraderie held firm to limit them to a consolatory penalty seven minutes from time. At the end of the game, the ball was punted high into the stand and cued a pitch invasion from the raucous Halesowen supporters.