London Scottish 51Hertford 10(Herts-Middlesex Division 2)
The enforced Christmas break, lengthened by the harsh weather, meant that both teams had not had an outing since early December. On a crisp clear morning it was Hertford who made the sharpest start, racing into a 0-5 lead after the first attack of the game with only two minutes played. This was a warning to the Scottish team and the response was immediate.
From the kick-off the forwards regained possession and drove quickly into the 22. From the ensuing scrum Declan drove the right and the forwards again provided quick release of the ball. Scrum-half for the day, Adam, went left brought the defence up and fired the ball to outside centre Munro who scored wide left. 5-5 with 4 minutes played and “game-on”!
The Scottish team then played some excellent rugby to dominate the remainder of the half. Firstly, a ‘dinked’ kick from Adam allowed Keith to pressure the Hertford right winger and Munro and Mitchell then exchanged possession prior to Mitchell scoring the second unconverted try. Direct from the kick-off the forwards again secured possession and fly-half Ryan spotted a gap and out-sprinted the Hertford players from the Scottish 10 metre line. 15-5 with 10 minutes on the clock.
The next score came from one of the best moves of the match. Tom, jumping at two, secured a line-out on half-way and fed Scott on a front peel. Scott, who had a great match, smashed through the first defender continued for 15 metres before skilfully off-loading to Tee-Jay. Adam and Hashmat took up the drive to the line before Tom burrowed through the pack for the bonus-point score with just 15 minutes on the clock.
It took time for the next score but another powerful drive by Declan from the back of the scrum set up the momentum for another thrust at the Hertford line. Better handling would have resulted in another score side left, but when this failed the forwards set up a maul and Scott spun-in to move the score to 27-5 to Scottish; Kieran having converted his first of the day.
Hertford never gave up and scored next when a Scottish line-out went awry. Quick work by their backs resulted in a well-taken try wide left. This reminded the Scottish team that despite an encouraging score-line the match was far from over.
The half finished with an audacious chip by Ryan which Louis regained just inside the Hertford half. After Louis’s run another quick piece of possession was moved left. Munro’s sublime pass then put Levi in for a score out wide. Half-time: 32-10 to Scottish.
The second-half was a tighter affair with Hertford changing tactics and using the boot to good effect to pin the Scottish team in their own half. Indeed it took a great cover tackle from Levi and Ryan to prevent a Hertford score and Declan’s pick-up from the scrum and a 60 metre sprint, will be also be remembered.
It took the Scottish boys until the 55th minute to score again, testament to Hertford’s resilience. Another kick and follow-up tackle by Ryan created ball for the forwards. Sami, on as a substitute, piled over for a converted score.
The next score was pure forwards! Almost every forward player had a pick-and-drive as the team smashed their way into the Hertford 22. Daniel finished off the move to get the scoreboard to 44-10 and to cap another good performance. The final score came from another prop, again after another series of forward drives. Louis took a short ball from Ryan to dance in under the posts, and the conversion by Kieran completed the scoring.
The Hertford coaches were very impressed with the Scottish team and the style with which they played rugby. The month ahead brings another two league games against Bedford and Ruislip and the team will need to continue their form to ensure that the chance of a third successive promotion is taken.
Team: 1 D Neal (L Keen 50); 2 T Farrell (D Neal 50); 3 L Keen (J Carter 46 / S Cozal 48); 4 S Holloway; 5 T Henderson; 6 J Ward (subbed for yellow card); 7 H Ullah (H Allan-Lowe 65); 8 D McPate (capt.); 9 A Ferguson (J Nellis 65); 10 R Flannery; 11 M Rogers (J Butler 63); 12 K Morgan; 13 M Third; 14 K Reddy (N Barreiro-Rosario 63); 15 L McDonald (A Samuels 65).
Yellow Card: J Carter 47
Referee: Richard Gourlay (Middlesex Society)