Match Report: Hitchin RFC 10 - 18 Hendon RFC
By Liam Murphy
Hendon topple league leaders from top spot.
A delighted Hendon coach Phil Smith commented, “Our game plan for this match was well executed by the whole team who had trained well to defend the opening half as necessary and then run round their heavier pack in the second period. I am delighted with the boys who continue to strengthen in this most competitive League with only 5 points separating us now in 4th to the club which is in 9th”
Captain Toby Ikwueke fully endorsed his coach and added “ the Team from 1 to 18 to include the replacements were superb with game management, stuck to their guns whatever the score which resulted in our best win yet of the season, against a well drilled Hitchin outfit who recorded their first home loss of the season”.
The Hitchin supporters were equally praising of the Hendon performance as deserved winners in this close fought encounter.
The game started abruptly for Hendon as only after five minutes Hitchin scored an unconverted try in the left hand corner to take an early lead. For much of the next 30 minutes Hendon defended with exceptional tackling from all players with Nick Andrews excelling to stop the heavier Hitchin pack from scoring. Hendon had two opportunities in this period commencing with a long kick to touch by Dan Watterson. From the line out Hendon claimed possession with Billy Burrell tunnelling over but the Referee adjudged the ball had been held up. From the scrum five, the ball went down the backline for Watterson, coming in from full back to dive through defenders in the opposite corner to score an unconverted try and Hendon were level at 5-5.
Into the second half and Hendon started to take the initiative little by little with carries by forwards Mike Culhane and Luke Pollard and neat footwork by ever improving half back Rob Casey. Then a surprising run through the middle by Hitchin looked a likely score but winger Will Theaker stopped him short allowing the Hendon defence to reclaim position.
After 20 minutes Hendon were rewarded after a mid field offside by Hitchin gave Watterson the opportunity to slot over a penalty and now the away outfit were 5-8 ahead. Hitchin came straight back with their forwards keeping the ball tight to power over in the corner for a try and regain control at 10 points to 8.
On came Vytautas Pavilonis in the forwards for his debut game to assist in Hendon reclaiming the lead as part of a 15 man (or more) move to get Hendon within the Hitchin whitewash eventually giving Chris Kiyingi the opportunity to dive over for another corner flag try. Watterson landed a great conversion to push Hendon back in front at 10 points to 15.
Hitchin in the last 10 minutes could only defend as Hendon stuck to their game plan and Hitchin were caught offside again and Watterson slotted over to finish the match at 10-18 and the best win of the season so far for the ever improving team.
Hendon have no league duties next week with their next game at Home to Wasps FC on January 26th at 2 pm. This match has been sponsored by Keith Gent and John Casalaspro and there will be a VPs and supporters lunch beforehand. Further details and reservations are available through Tom Brownsell at teb.rugby@gmailcom