11th May 2017, 10:21 | college_
Cole Connolly scored the winning try with seconds to go as Hopwood Hall were crowned national College champions for a second-successive year on Wednesday night at Rochdale's Crown Oil Arena.
Halifax had the edge going into the final minutes, but a late surge from Matt Calland's eventual champions saw them retain the title they won in golden point extra time last season.
Hopwood's Liam Riley opened the scoring out wide early on, before Zac Hartley's goal made it 6-0.
Huge tackles were flying in from both sides, but it was Halifax who were next to score, Titus Gwaze going over beneath the posts, Lewis Hosty adding the extras.
In an end-to-end game, Hopwood then re-gathered the resulting kick off and match-winner Cole Connolly zipped over the line from range, Hartley with the two to make it 12-6.
But the rest of the half belonged to Halifax.
Guided by brothers Gareth and Lee Greenwood from the sidelines, Hosty got his name amongst the tries before Jack Stevenson powered his way through the smallest of gaps in the defence to get the Academy ahead for the first time.
Hosty added the two to make it 16-12 to the West Yorkshire side and that's how it stayed at the break.
Hopwood enjoyed a perfect start to the second period, Josh Allen scoring after a stunning tip-off following a kick.
That brought the scores level at 16-all, but it wasn't long before Gwaze had his second four-pointer of the match, as he muscled his way over from a yard out.
Halifax were beginning to turn the screw, and Hosty added the extras, before dotting over a penalty goal to give his side a two-score lead (24-16).
With their backs against the wall, Hopwood needed to find another gear, and Guille Souza provided it off the bench as he beat off no fewer than four defenders to score under the posts.
Hartley converted once again and it was 22-24 to Halifax with seven minutes to play.
Lewis Hosty then hit back with a drop goal to make it 25-22 with under five minutes left.
But there was still time for some late drama, as Connolly dummied his way over from close range with just five seconds left, sparking remarkable scenes of celebration.
Hartley converted from in front of the posts to round off the scoring, 28-25.
.@hopwoodhall @CollegeRL @HalifaxERA @Halifax_RLFC @Mayfieldrl @RochdaleHornets @siddalrl @AllGolds "I just knew we had it in the bag..." 👊— The RFL (@TheRFL) May 10, 2017
Match-winner Cole Connolly reflects on an incredible win for his @hopwoodhall side. pic.twitter.com/MR2w4Fuq5U
Hopwood Hall: Matthew Ashton; Liam Riley, Josh Allen, Bradley Calland, Lee Registe; Zac Baker, Zac Hartley; Ross Crawford, Cole Connolly, Tom Houraghan; Rian Carter-Dean, Jack McConachie; Ryan Dalton. Subs: Dominic Manion, Liam Aspin, Guille Souza,Will Dickinson, Terence James, Eamon Duffy.
Halifax Elite Rugby Academy: Lewis Hosty; Harry Burgess, Sam Bourouh, Archie Andrade, Dakota Whylie; Finley Hickey, Sam Smith, Titus Gwaze; Henry Turner, Liam Quinn; Ellis Nuttall, Tyler Dupree; Ben Jackson. Subs: Jack Brown, Ethan Egerton-Sharp, Joe Hall, Jack Stevenson, Joslin Landu.
Watch a full re-run of the match here