Hertford 1st XV 26 V Tring 1st XV 24
Hertford left it very late to seal a hard fought victory at Hoe Lane on Saturday against an excellent Tring side who more than deserved their losing bonus point
The supporters in attendance were treated to an enthralling contest that was in the balance to the very end as both sides slugged it out with nothing being left on the pitch.
Tring played with the confidence gained by a long unbeaten run carried over from last season’s promotion campaign into their return at this level. There were barely minutes on the clock when a loose carry by Hertford allowed the visitors to unleash some high energy rugby that saw them retain possession for multiple phases before winger Sam Barnes crashed over for the score that was improved by fly half Tom Newton.
Having been rattled by the fast start the home side rallied and may have scored themselves as Torran McDougall reached out over the line but was adjudged to have knocked on. Despite this Hertford pressure Tring scored again when a fast break out was taken deep into Hertford’s half by the influential Newton and a loose tackle allowed flanker Nicholson-Potter to power his way to the line for a converted score.
Again Hertford dug deep and worked their way back into the game, prop Najee Mundicha’s thundering run into the visitors territory was the fuel to get the engine turning and several recycles later lock Tim Matthews motored over for his first try in the blue shirt. Sean Taylor was on point with the conversion but Hertford’s joy was tempered by the sight of Mundicha hobbling off with a reoccurrence of a troublesome hamstring, even then with this adversity came an opportunity as 23 year old Geoff Hughes came on for a more than decent debut.
Hertford although well in contention in the contest were not at their fluent best with their attacks crumbling on the solid wall of a flint like defence, further profligacy with the ball was then punished by the official as he signalled a penalty which Newton surely converted.
The Hoe Lane side needed a repost and shortly before half time they got it when Michael Allen took a Taylor pass and with a neat side step wrong footed the defence to steal in to the left of the sticks for the converted try 14-17 HT.
The opening quarter of the second period remained tight with Hertford lacking the cohesion or sparkle to trouble the visitors line and indeed it was the West Hert’s side that troubled the scorers next as a well organised drive down the scoreboard slope saw lock Mike March take the plaudits, needless to say despite the wind against him Newton nailed the conversion.
With less than twenty to go and with the home support momentarily hushed the game was at tipping point, but with heart and desire the Hoe Lane side dragged themselves back into contention by virtue of their pack. A scrum 10 metres out with a Tring put in seemed in the context of what had gone on before to be routine exit play, but the Hertford eight unceremoniously shunted their opponents back across their own try line to allow McDougall to gratefully touchdown for the five, Taylor made no mistake with the extra’s.
With Hoe Lane now a noisy cauldron Hertford threw everything they had at the Tring line but the visitors stood up strongly to the barrage of pressure. With the final whistle almost sounding and uncontested scrums negating that avenue of play the home side struck, a wayward cross field kick was collected by replacement winger Jack Mitchell who neglected finesse for brute force as he made vital metres, from the ruck scrum half Ben Creasey then went on a mazy run that had the visitors rearguard scrambling and with the space created he supplied Dave Archer who with Rob Jones giving him options shouldered the responsibility to fight his way over for the winning score. It mattered little that the conversion drifted wide the win and try bonus points in the bag.
A real tough day at the office against a side who if they maintain this vein of form will be challenging in April, as Hertford continue the transition of integrating the new players, some of whom and they will not mind me saying, are playing at the highest levels of their careers to date. Games like this one will only help their progression and despite a couple of losses the Hoe Lane side in this very competitive league are well in the mix.