CRAWLEY chairman Daniel McGurran hailed a momentous occasion for the club after they won a thrilling Sussex Shield final.

Crawley lifted the trophy for the first time in the club’s history as they beat East Grinstead 37-34 in a nerve-jangling final.

They also came up just short in the Sussex Plate final to Shoreham.

Chairman McGurran said: “It was a big day for the club. At one point we were down to 12 men having had three yellows cards in the space of a few minutes.

“East Grinstead then went ahead by nine in that ten-minute period.

“However, when we were back to 15 men, we battled back and managed to win it late on, so it was a hair-raising game really.”

Crawley headed into the break 19-15 up after tries from Dom Morgan, Mike Cook, Dilip Thayagaraja, plus two conversions from Kris Dean.

However, East Grinstead dominated in the second half.

Dean scored a penalty to make it 22-15 to Crawley but they were then reduced to 12 men after a quick succession of yellows cards for Kieron Gosling, Fraser Thompson and Alex Nabar.

East Grinstead took full advantage scoring two tries and a penalty.

Dean scored another penalty to keep Crawley nine points behind with the scores at 34-25.

With ten minutes to go Crawley needed to score twice to get in front.

Thayagaraja managed to race away and dot down to make it 34-30 and set up a tense last few minutes.

In the dying minutes of the game, Dean popped a pass to Thayagaraja who raced over again to make it 35-34.

Dean converted to seal Crawley’s milestone success.

Grinstead’s blindside flanker Dan Arnold got two tries with one apiece from inside centre Richard Dodgson, wing Jake Radcliffe and full back Ollie Adams.

Adams also added three conversions and a penalty.

Crawley’s second XV could not make it double delight as they were beaten convincingly 69-5 by Shoreham in the Sussex Plate.

Shoreham coach Alex Hadfield saluted a fantastic day for the club.

He said: “The lads prepared really well for the game in the week and were dominant from start to finish.

“Despite a lack of discipline in the second half, and a spirited Crawley side that kept fighting until the end, we carried on with the game plan throughout.

“It was a fantastic day for the club.”

Shoreham skipper Daryn Clarke was delighted with the team’s display in the showcase event.

He said: “That was the most complete Shoreham performance I’ve been involved with and was a testament to all of the hard work the players and management have been putting in all season.”

The points for Shoreham came courtesy of try hat-tricks from Danny James, Adam Shaw and Lance Tuff.

The other try was scored by Chris Reynolds, with Shaw adding eight conversions and one penalty.

Grinstead under-16s’ Éoin O’Donoghue, has been selected to play for the Irish Exiles.