Fitting tribute: March Bears play out thrilling 22-22 tie in memorial match

RUGBY stars played out a thrilling 22-22 tie as March Bears provided a fitting tribute to two of their former stalwarts on Saturday.

Captains Aaron Boxall and Robert Whyman were forced to share the inaugural Doug Cranwell Memorial Trophy after a hard-fought clash at Elm Road Sports Field.

Players and fans braved freezing temperatures to stage the match in memory of former vice-president Doug Cranwell and club man Chris Day.

Injured fly-half Matty Day, Mr Day’s son, watched from the sidelines while Mr Cranwell’s son, Steve, and grandson, Sam, were both involved.

President Barry Feetham said: “It was a nice tribute with a mix of youngsters and older guys playing. We had teenagers playing in the same game as players who are almost 60 - that’s the sort of club we are.

“Steve (Cranwell) knows that it’s a good club, with a nice atmosphere and a lot of family involvement. The club meant a lot to Doug and it means a lot to him. They grew up man and boy playing rugby for March.”

Tries from Simon Althoff (2), Mark Knight and Jake Reed gave their side a half-time lead but Ben Saxby, Lee Brooks, Gary Parmenter and Ian Raynor all crashed over to set up a thrilling finale.

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The club, who are hoping to make the fixture an annual event, have been given a tough welcome to the Greene King Super Premiere Merit league this season.

The Bears sit bottom of the table with just one victory, but Feetham, who has been at the club for more than 25 years, insists they are on a learning curve.

“We need to build for the future,” he said. “To get back to the glory days we need more players and we need a priority on youngsters.

“There’s plenty of plans, and we are looking at setting up a link with Neale-Wade, but what we do need is more help and volunteers.”

The Bears return to action in the New Year.