Hendon RFC 28 points London Scottish Lions 19 points
By Liam Murphy
Hendon win Cup Final to finish the 2018/19 Season.
London Scottish Lions completed their League season undefeated with promotion to Herts/Middlesex 1 and were the favourites to finish with another title by winning the prestigious Middlesex Federation Vase presented to Middlesex Rugby by the famous Astrologer Russell Grant.
Hendon had also produced one of the best run of wins throughout the entire League programme to climb from 9th to 3rd in Herts/Middlesex 1 thus ensuring a possible close encounter for the Cup Final. This turned out to be just the case with a brilliant display of attacking rugby by both teams that also stretched both Clubs' defensive capability resulting in the lead to the final whistle changing hands no less than seven times.
Hendon commenced up the slope and from the kick off pushed up-field to the visitors 22 who were caught offside and captain Cian Hynes slotted over for a slim 3-0 lead after 3 minutes. Scottish responded and Hendon defending were offside in midfield for the Scottish stand off to kick long to touch. From the lineout the Scottish forwards set up a rolling maul to score a converted try to take the lead 3-7.
However, midway through the half from an initial carry by Hendon’s Luke Pollard, scrum half Billy Burrell made a blindside break with Tom Mathias in support passing to Chris Kiyingi to finish the move with a run down the wing to score in the corner for an unconverted try so Hendon took the lead at 8 points to 7. On the half hour it was Scottish back into attack and from a ruck on the Hendon 22 the ball was spun out to the Scottish No. 10 on the burst to split the Hendon defence and score under the posts for Scottish to retake the lead 8 points to 14.
But Hendon came back and from the restart Rossa Dooley made the break for the initial carry then to fellow forward Vytas Pavilonis took over taking play to the Scottish 22 and setting up a maul joined by winger Will Theaker to crash over for Hendon’s second try with Hynes' conversion attempt being swept away again by the strong cross wind as Hendon went into the half time break at one point down at 13-14.
Into the second half Hendon from the restart kept Scottish in their own 22 and from their defensive mistake Hendon’s Donal O’Sullivan set up a maul for Burrell to feed winger Kiyingi to score his second try out wide and Hendon were in front again at 18-14. With the match wide open on 25 minutes Scottish created an overlap in midfield for their right winger to run in a try out wide for them again to take the lead at 18-19.
With just 12 minutes left on the clock it was clear that the next score could decide the outcome and as Dooley turned over another maul, Scottish were caught offside and Hynes converted from the 22 for another narrow lead at 21-19 still leaving the match wide open. But problems then came for Hendon as a backline player went to the bin for a technical offence but Hendon kept up the attack with Theaker down the left wing, only to be defended with a kick upfield collected by Casey to return to the Scottish 22 metre line.
From the resulting scrum Hendon’s TJ O’Sullivan was tackled short, but from the ruck the ball was taken by Kiyingi who dived for the line with three attackers pulling him down but an outstretched arm was enough for the ball to go down over the line to score and Hynes kicked the conversion to take Hendon into a two score lead at 28-19 for what seemed the longest period for the match to the final whistle and Hendon had their silverware as a fitting tribute to end the season.
Quoted Hendon coach Phil Smith, “ I am so proud of the lads who followed the game plan to beat the best team we have played this season; London Scottish will most certainly be promotion prospects in Herts/Middlesex 1 for next season. But for now we are No.1 and proved it with the whole team, including replacements, playing their part without exception.”
Immediately after the Final the Federation Vase was presented by delighted Hendon President David Gershlick (representing Middlesex Rugby), to Hendon Captain Cian Hynes, and thanked all the Hendon and Scottish supporters and volunteers, the Match Officials and the London Scottish Team for a great day of Rugby Football.