1 month ago
By Rob Davies
For Hereford Rugby, 2018 went out with a whimper at Sutton Coldfield.
On a bitterly cold and rain-soaked afternoon they lost their unbeaten away record. For the first time this season Hereford suffered a shut-out and failed to get even a losing bonus point. They failed to take advantage of the slope in the first half and changed ends 3 points down. In the second period Sutton Coldfield registered three tries and closed out the game at 20 points to nil.
“A very disappointing result,” said Head Coach, Sean Lynn. “We said at the beginning of the season that we wanted come away with points from every game and this is the first that we haven’t. Its another step on a big learning curve for us. Full credit to Sutton Coldfield, they came at us with a game plan and stuck to it. We should have come away with points from the first half and that’s a lesson learnt. Two weeks off now, the boys need a good rest up. Great performances from Fran Jennings, stepping in and doing great work and Gareth Jones, again 100% work rate from him.”
Hereford played down the slope in the first half, but failed to make the advantage count. Apart from the first 10 minutes when Sutton took play several times into the Hereford half, the Wyesiders had the better of both field position and possession. The conditions were not good for their handling game and they put constant pressure on the Sutton goal line without ever being able to force their way over the whitewash. Mid-way through the half and much against the run of play, Sutton took a 3-point lead with a well taken penalty goal after Hereford were penalised at the break down, a lead which they were able to retain until the interval.
The second half opened with a Sutton penalty to the corner followed by a catch and drive to the line and a try in the corner. The conversion attempt was wide. Hereford were put under pressure from the Sutton pack and Richard Preece had a yellow card for repeated offences. The hosts closed off their victory with a brace of tries, one of which was converted. The Hereford players worked hard, the forwards did well in the scrums, but their lineout work was inconsistent. There were some good runs from broken play by Leon Parsons and James Stubbs. The final score of 20 points to nil reflected accurately the balance of play and Sutton Coldfield were good value for their win.
Hereford enter 2019 in a mid-table position and will be ruing the games they could have won, particularly the home games with top sides Newbold, Bromsgrove and Dudley Kingswinford. The forwards have played consistently well, the lineouts are usually secure and the scrummaging excellent. However, the habit of taking the ball standing still when pressing an opponent’s line has meant little return from this element of play. The catch and drive from the lineout though has resulted in eleven tries so far this season. The Hereford signature offering is the running passing game and in the right conditions provides entertaining and successful rugby but when, as so often attempted when conditions are adverse, can lead to disaster. The opening game in 2019 on 5th January is with Shropshire neighbours Whitchurch who are enjoying a good season,
Updated 12:44 - 21 Dec 2018 by Rob Davies