Datch 2nd XV v Hitchin 7th Oct 2017
Hedgehogs get run over!
The mighty green army 2nd XV were once again victorious in a feisty, but hard fought battle away to Hitchin.
In what some spectators saw as the ‘main event’ at Old Hale Way on Saturday, Datch fielded a strong side. Peppered with pace and experience, it was inevitable that they would start with an attacking mindset. After only 3 minutes some quick hands from Alex Mills and Matt Blackwell took the green army into enemy territory, only to be thwarted by an overexcited young Hitchin flanker, deemed illegal, Alan ‘Frankie’ Cartmell set the ball rolling with a well-struck penalty, 0-3.
The green army were immediately put on the defensive, with a period of backs to the wall defending. Hitchin rumbled on with their experienced pack, some carrying a little more ‘experience’ than others, eventually leading to a line break, and their prop trundled over the line. Conversion missed 5-3. Datchworth came back on the offensive, with positive play in the midfield allowing Mills to work the team into the corner. Fast hands, and sublime organisation found Hankin in space on the wing, quick feet to beat his opposite man and the covering full-back put him over the line. Conversion missed, 5-8.
With Datch on the offensive, it was only a matter of time before more points were added. A scrum on the Hitchin 10m line was well controlled by the front row under pressure, allowing Light to feed Mills, who, in turn, unleashed the well groomed and surprisingly charismatic pair of Blackwell and Grant Roe. Roe beat a number of defenders, before finding Dom Wright who powered over the fullback and scored in the corner. Conversion missed (again) 5-13.
Hitchin came back once more, their ball playing 10 bringing strong running centres through the middle of the pitch. Thankfully, Max ‘Hobbit’ Stannard was his usual, reliable self, making tackle after tackle and preventing a number of breakaways. The Hitchin juggernaut tumbled on though, and after a number of penalties against the mighty greens, a catch and drive saw Hitchin over the line. Converted 12-13. Datch returned with a try from Stannard to open the gap, (not converted before you ask), but were once again outdone by the driving maul, with Hitchin scoring at the stroke of half time, 19-18.
The second half was somewhat a repeat of the previous week, excellent running rugby was shared with dismal defending at times which could have proven costly. Straight from the kick off, Jake Ebhodaghe (who had returned to the field after recovering from his compulsory high tackle) was a menace, bringing down their strong runners and forcing the defence to resort to kicking for territory. Away from the game of Rugby that had broken out, Datchworth blindside Dan McGuire was contending with the repeated attempts of his opposite number to aggravate him. McGuire was his usual collected self (!) and refused to rise to the rude and often poorly thought through insults of the young Hitchin flanker, however, the referee penalised Datch for a number of backchatting infringements and Hitchin capitalised by taking an 8 point lead 26-18.
Datch replied positively once more, with hard lines and quick ball from Light bringing Roe back into the action, drawing in the solid Hitchin centres before creating a ruck 5m our from the line. Greg Emms, who has a better strike rate than Harry Kane, powered through to close the gap, 26-23. Closely followed by Tom Bambra who got the mighty green army back in front, converted by Cartmell, 26-30.
The final 10 minutes was nerves, with both sides getting in trouble with the referee for backchat. It was Hitchin who drew blood first however, working a good couple of phases in the bottom corner, and despite the efforts of the hard tackling Ben Akers and Adam Paine, Hitchin took the lead. Missed conversion, 31-30. At this point, a cunning plan was devised, with sublime execution, Mills sent the kick off deep into enemy territory, pressure from Ebhodaghe resulted in a knock on, and the platform from the pack allowed Light to set the backs off on what could have been the winning score. The ensuing play saw Roe take a tackle somewhere in line with his ear lobe, which provided a penalty directly in front, which Cartmell duly converted, Datch in the lead 31-33. The final tense moments of the game almost saw a chip and chase from Mills come off in the corner for Stannard, but Hitchin were able to collect and clear as far as Blackwell on the half way line. Quickly making 30 meters Blackwell fed Roe who beat the sprightly young Hitchin blindside but was stopped short of the line, Roe popped to the only undefeated captain in the club, Jones, who finished it off. Converted by Cartmell, Datch win 31-40.