Daniel’s Twickenham experience will live long in the memory

Kettering's Joe Daniel was part of the victorious East Midlands side at Twickenham last weekend
Kettering's Joe Daniel was part of the victorious East Midlands side at Twickenham last weekend

Saracens becoming double winners and England demolishing Wales might have grabbed more attention, but there was more to the Twickenham action than that at the weekend.

After the Premiership final on Saturday and before the international fixture on Sunday afternoon, the East Midlands created their own bit of history by making their first appearance in a final at headquarters.

And it was a victorious occasion as they beat Kent 33-27 to win the County Plate.

Playing his part on the day was Kettering’s Joe Daniel – a sole representative from the area in a team dominated by Ampthill players.

His boot contributed valuable points to the winning cause on a day it will be impossible to forget.

“I’ve been there before to watch Saints but I’ve never seen an international before so it was good to stay around for that,” he said.

“To play there, you don’t get many chances like that.

“It’s something you dream of doing. For as far back as I can remember, playing rugby as a little kid, it something you aspire to. So to actually do it is a dream come true and something that will be with me forever.

“The whole thing was a great experience. We did the walk from the bus like the professionals do.

“And then you get into the dressing-rooms and, well, it’s not like that at Kettering!

“We were in dressing-room five, not the main ones. But it was still a lot bigger than anything I’m used to.

“It was a bit weird running out – not just because it was empty but because of how big it is. It does take your breath away a bit. You’ve obviously got a game to concentrate on but also you want to take it all in.”

The game itself also went to plan – more or less.

The result was the right one but it took a fair bit of hard work to get there.

“It was back and forward all game,” Daniel explained. “We were in front, then behind, in front, then behind.

“I’m sure it was quite entertaining to watch but it wasn’t the easiest win.

“We scored in the last minute to make it 33-27 and then I had a conversion to seal it – and missed.

“I finished with four out of seven on the day which was a bit annoying because I was 100 per cent in the previous matches. I’d kicked 16 out of 16.

“My first kick was 40 metres out and straight in front of the posts. Normally it wouldn’t be any problem but there were plenty of nerves.

“It’s the backdrop as much as anything. All you can see are the stands in the background.

“But it went straight over so that was a good feeling and settled the nerves a bit.

“It was a great day. It’s the home of rugby, isn’t it, so to play there is something I’ll always remember.”