The wait was worth it as Great Britain men ground out a tense 7-6 overtime victory over France in their first appearance on home soil for four years.
The boot of Manchester Titans’ Alex Lenkowski was the difference as a jubilant crowd of 922 – undeterred by the wet and windy conditions – celebrated a famous victory for the #ManeMen.
Watch match highlights here
The Lions had struggled to capitalise on their offensive dominance in the first half which could have seen them 16 points to the good and the French were able to grow into the game in the second half .
But the visitors also struggled to capitalise on the opportunities they created – thanks in large part to the excellent defensive work of the likes of Tamworth Phoenix’s Nelson Charles-Nwufoh, Jamaal Fredericks of London Warriors and Mark Stewart of Edinburgh Wolves.
But in overtime, the match sprung into life. France scored first – but crucially could not convert the extra point, with Great Britain blocking the kick in dramatic fashion.
However, there were no such issues for Great Britain as MVP Aaron Sekwalor of the Rushmoor Knights ran in, untouched from 10 yards out to level the score 6-6 before the boot of Lenkowski of Manchester Titans secured a huge win in front of the home crowd.
GB Head Coach Jason Scott said: “This result is the culmination of all the hard work on the Great Britain programme. I’m delighted for the players and the near 1,000 people in the stands.”
Touchdown hero, Aaron Sekwalor said: “I never thought that something like this could happen. It’s incredible to have things play out the way they did. My mindset was to do my job – the coaches created a great plan to set us up for success.”
Pictures courtesy of Adam Gumb