Shelford 1stXV 19 V Hertford 1stXV 37
Hertford returned with the spoils from their trip to Shelford on Saturday after racking up five tries in a bonus point victory.
The Hoe Lane side will be pleased with their efforts at a venue where a W in the results column has proved to be notoriously difficult in recent seasons.
Hertford entered the match with an unchanged squad from the previous week and began this game with the tempo that they ended the last as they opened the scoring on three minutes.
An earnest chase by Jack Mitchell and Stuart Smart of fly half Ben Lloyd’s through kick saw the home side hastily clear into touch around their own 22, from the lineout the ball was switched left and after a couple of tilts centre field by the forwards, Lloyd brought it back right with a lovely clean miss pass to hooker Rob Jones, who gratefully accepted the opportunity to score. A difficult conversion attempt by Sean Taylor in a swirling wind faded to the right of the posts.
A couple of minutes later it was a Hertford put in at a scrum on their 22, despite being put under pressure by the Shelford pack, number eight Dave Archer cleverly flicked the ball through his legs to scrum half Ben Creasey who along with Taylor stood their defenders up well to allow Jack Mitchell to gallop away down the right flank and score his maiden league try. Taylor then stroked over the conversion to add the extras.
Shelford attempted to get into the game but excellent clearing kicks by Lloyd pinned them back in their own half and when the same player made a short sharp burst into the hosts 22 the pressure that ensued saw him find prop Louis Castiologne carving through untouched for the converted score.
What had been a decent day for rugby then deteriorated as the heavens opened, and with this despite keeping up the intensity handling inaccuracies began to creep into Hertford’s game. A Taylor penalty stretched the lead to twenty two points before Shelford’s large pack began to work themselves into the proceedings and they were rewarded with a score on the stroke of half time.
Hopes of a comeback for the home side were enhanced further when they scored early on in the second forty but this proved to be just a bump in the road for the Hoe Lane men as they dug deep to regain control of the game. Taylor then added three more points from his boot when Shelford lost their own lineout and a scrambling defence transgressed as they tried to address the blemish.
As the weather began to brighten so did Hertford and although the scoreboard remained static the visitors regained a measure of control and with the bench entering the fray the vitality went up a couple of levels.
Coming into the close a kickable penalty for Hertford was turned down in favour of the tap and although the initial surge was rebuffed multiple phases later slick handling saw Taylor diving in the left corner to notch the bonus point score which he was unable to improve.
Hertford’s final score owed all to the pack as they won a scrummage against the head with a decent shove deep in the Shelford red zone, the now eight Torran McDougall slipped the ball to Creasey whose sleight of hand wrong footed his defender creating the space which he exploited to nip in for the score, Taylor then secured the additional two from the tee.
As if to emphasise the nature of this league and the difficulty of a win at the Davey field, Shelford scored again with a fine individual try and as the conversion popped over the sticks the referee brought the game to an end.
A good win where the quality throughout understandably could not match that of the first twenty, the conditions played their part, but the intent to run the ball was on display for all to see and made for an entertaining encounter. With the 2nd XV winning by a large score on the adjoining pitch it will be a happy squad but those in possession of the 1st team shirts will know there is pressure to continue to perform with the talent that is knocking on their door.