The players were celebrating and enjoying praising comments from LAURENCE SMITH when the news came in that London Nigerians had secured a four try win against Finchley, thus ensuring both LN and BE were level on 74 points in the final League Table but, unfortunately, the West London side had the far superior points differential which gave them second place and automatic promotion.
The game started so well for the 1st XV: inside the first minute, the pack turned over Hitchin ball in midfield and this was quickly recycled to the left wing where (who else ?) Glyn Bayley
ran through for the first of his three tries: JONNY HART
added the conversion. However, BE took the foot off the pedal, briefly, and Hitchin scored a good, counter-attacking, converted try to level the scores. Despite playing uphill, BE knuckled down with James Oram
, RICKY STEVENS, CHRIS BROMILEY and PETER MOULTON all winning a lot of lineout ball. The backs were threatening, too, with TOM POOLE making several breaks, one of which looked as if it was going to be a try until he stumbled. Nevertheless, POOLE was involved in both the next two tries, firstly in a swift passing move that released David Leadbitter
for a try on the right wing and then when he passed inside to Glyn Bayley
whose diagonal run took him through to the try line, JONNY HART
converting. The only criticism of the pack was that they did not make more use of the "nudge on tactics". The team then gave away too many penalties - another referee might have shown a yellow card but the excellent Leicestershire official used his common sense and warned the team. One such penalty, although harshly given against RICKY STEVENS, meant that Hitchin kicked on the stroke of half time but still trailed 19-10 at the break.
It was game over shortly after the restart when Captain PETER MOULTON
powered over for the vital try to gain the bonus point with JONNY HART
adding the extras. A clever cross kick, aimed for Glyn Bayley
on the wing, evaded both him and the defence initially until Glyn Bayley
pounced on the bouncing ball for his hat trick. At that point, Hitchin decided to adopt a damage limitation cause and they kicked a penalty and scored a try to make it 31-10 before BE finished the game in some strength. Firstly, JONNY HART interecepted on his 22 and burst down the field, only being stopped on the away 5 metre line. However, this ensured BE were back in control: James Oram
scored wide out on the right wing and then RICKY STEVENS was denied the try he deserved as his "touch down" was on the wrong side of the referee's vision. However, BE went for a pushover try, shortly afterwards, and "captain supremo" PETER MOULTON
controlled the ball to score his second try.
A good League campaign: we can only hope the RFU Competitions Committee can find fault in another team's registered players or that they restructure the Leagues and Divisions to allow BE a back-door route up through the Leagues. Otherwise, well done everyone to include LAURENCE, IAN, LARA and all the other physios.