UTTOXETER were robbed of victory at Market Drayton in a blood and thunder encounter with the league leaders.
The Town’s Midlands Four West (North) title hopes took a big hit after they conceded an injury time try to go down 15- 13.
But Uttoxeter were incensed with the referee for adding too much time — and allegedly failing to communicate effectively with them.
As they led in injury time, the official was twice asked if it was the final play of the game, but failed to give a clear answer.
Drayton then made a final attack and took the win — with the Town told afterwards that if they had kicked into touch, the whistle would have sounded.
Uttoxeter director of rugby Donald Hayes reckons it was the best game he has seen at the club’s current level.
“We did enough to win the game,” said the former front row.
“All involved know Uttoxeter won the contest fair and square, but we have to take the outcome on the chin and move on.
“This was the best Level Nine game I have ever seen. It could have easily been Level Seven — the skill, fitness and instensity level from both sides was outstanding.
“More matches like this are vital for the development of both sides.” Both XVs started at a good pace, with Drayton — featuring several Pacific Islanders — hitting a post with a penalty from fly-half Steve Meadows.
Paul Milward then narrowly missed with a penalty from just inside the hosts’ half as Uttoxeter hit back.
Drayton winger Joe Koroivuya should have been sin-binned for a high tackle on Lewis Bain but escaped with a warning.
Instead, it was the Town down to 14 men as Milward was yellow carded for his reaction.
Meadows then gave Drayton the lead with a simple penalty in front of the posts after Ben Gallimore was adjudged offside.
Koroivuya was eventually sin-binned for another infraction, with Uttoxeter’s Bruce Mustard joining him for a 10- minute break for yet more retaliation.
With Milward still off the pitch, Aaron Lakin missed another penalty for the Town.
Drayton then extended their lead through the outstanding Meadows.
He bounced off one tackle and charged through before grounding the ball under pressure from several tacklers. He got up and converted his own score.
Uttoxeter were unfortunate to be 10-0 down at the break, but turned on the style in the second half with a dominant display.
Pete Allen cut the gap with an excellent team try involving Bain and Steve Woolley five minutes after the restart. Milward converted.
Drayton then conceded a penalty and Milward levelled.
James Williams and Milward both came close to another try, only to be denied by defiant defending.
Eventually they got the lead for the first time as Milward slotted his second penalty of the afternoon.
Uttoxeter then lost skipper Mat Nance, who was knocked out by a big hit from one of the Drayton pack. He was sportingly aided by the hosts’ Dan Leigh and Apisai Bulimaibau and regained consciousness soon afterwards.
Mike Davies replaced him, while Chris Basset came on for Gallimore in the centres.
Sherrat was then replaced by Andy Todd, with Milward going to full-back and Todd to scrum-half.
Controversy came in the dying minutes when Uttoxeter failed to find touch after kicking long, when if they had gone short the game would have ended.
Bulimaibau took full advantage at the end of an excellent counter-attack, going over to steal the win.
UTTOXETER under-12 beat Burntwood 20-10 away before tackling Tamworth and going down 15-0 to a big side.
The young Town outfit were excellent against Burntwood, with Mike Birks and Harry Thorne scoring to give their side a 10-5 half-time lead.
Man-of-the-match Birks grabbed a second score and Zac Wright went over to complete a 20-10 victory.
Tamworth had also turned up at Burnwood for a fixture and proved just too much for a tiring Town team.