Southend 17-36 Hertford
Hertford fight back from 17-0 down with 14 men to win 36-17 away at Southend
Hertford go to the top of the league after this hard fought game against a Southend side fighting for there survival. Hertford spent the first 30 minutes of this game unrecognisable from the way they have been playing. The Southend forwards got them over the gain line time and time again, especially their numbers 2, 5 and 8. Hertford compounded this by kicking the ball away at the wrong times and panicking when in possession and giving the footie away. Disaster then struck with Michael Sargent getting a red card on 20 minutes and by the letter of the law the sending off was justified.
Hertford started in positive fashion and ran the ball to the opposition half way line from the kick off through Michael Allan. Ben Lloyd then put in a clearance kick which Southend returned to the Hertford 22. Hertford lost the resulting lineout and after 3 phases Southend got a penalty, which they missed.
Southend continued to make line breaks and on 6 minutes the number 12 for Southend made an excellent break and was just kept out by a scrambling Hertford defence, which resulted in a knock on. From the scrum Hertford pushed the bigger Southend forwards back, which they did all day, but then gave a away a penalty at the breakdown. Southend kicked for the corner and drove the lineout 5 metres out from the Hertford line. After three phases of pick and go's they managed to get a try and the conversion was kicked. 7 nil to the home side.
Hertford tried to get back in the game and after good runs from Geoff Hughes and Stuart Smart on 11 minutes got a penalty on the halfway line. Hertford kicked to the Southend 22 but at the ensuing breakdown lost the ball. Southend ran the ball back with intent and got a penalty in front of the sticks. Southend 10-0 Hertford.
On 15 minutes, Hertford kicked off to Southend and they returned the kick. Ben Lloyd received the ball and chipped over the top to find space behind and missed the ball by inches as it bounced over him. It fell gratefully in to the Southend wingers hands and he ran around the Hertford defence from the halfway line, scoring an excellent well taken try. Unbelievably this was the last time Southend would score any more points on the day. Southend 17-0 Hertford
At 19 minutes Hertford got a lineout on the Southend 22 and Luke Ellis, Jack Elston and Dan Belton all had good carries and Hertford got a penalty 10 metres out. Josh Corcoran opted to take a scrum and this was a good decision as the Hertford scrum was going very well. From this scrum Sargent got his marching orders for his altercation and Hertford were down to 14 men. At this point Kyle Lemon made way for Jack Mitchell so Hertford then had a specialist 9 on the pitch.
The game then became very scrappy but Hertford began to get there composure back and started to put some phases together, trying to pick up the tempo of the game and they started to look dangerous. When they kept the phases going they looked far more effective.
On 39 minutes a dominant Hertford scrum led to a free kick and Torran MacDougall quickly took the tap penalty and after surges by Jack Elston, Dan Belton and then James Kinsley, who made 25 metres and handed off several would be tacklers, Hertford scored in the left hand corner after great footwork from Allan. Southend 17-7 Hertford.
On 43 minutes (running clock) Hertford got a great turnover through the hard working back row of Josh Corcoran, Dan Belton and Torran MacDougall and Jack Mitchell made a great break before he found the rampaging Morgan on the half way line and he raced to the opposition 22 and good hands followed with Sean Taylor and Richard Streets making ground and from the ensuing ruck, smart thinking by Stuart Smart, as he recycled the ball to Michael Allan, who crossed for his 2nd try of the day. Southend 17-12 Hertford.
The 2nd half started with Southend trying to get the momentum back but Hertford held them with some excellent defensive work from Luke Ellis and especially Jack Mitchell and Stuart Smart who both put in some monstrous hits. On 47 minutes Southend got a penalty which also saw Hertford go down to 13 men with Smart seeing yellow(not so Smart!). This did not hamper Hertford and they continued to attack with vigour and much more composure. On 56 minutes Ben Lloyd made a excellent break from the halfway line and found Sean Taylor and Geoff Hughes in support. Hertford then had two scrums 10 metres out and the front row of Morgan, Ellis and Hughes pushed back their opposite numbers at will. From the second scrum Jack Mitchell found Sean Taylor on a switch ball and after 2 phases the ball was recycled to Josh Corcoran, who then slipped the ball to the industrious Jack Elston and he went over the whitewash for a good Hertford score. This proved to be big turning point for 13 man Hertford. Southend 17-19 Hertford.
Smart returned to the fray and from the kick off Torran MacDougall made a bulldozing run of 30 meters and got Hertford to the opposition 10 metre line. The ball was recycled to Taylor and he was forced in to touch. From the Southend lineout, Jack Elston made a great leap to steal the ball and Jack Mitchell found Lloyd with a sharp pass. Ben Lloyd took the ball up and then with a show go went straight through and showed great pace to score under the posts. Southend 17-26 Hertford.
Ollie Cain came on at this point for Dan Belton and made a big impact. On the 75 minute mark he made a 30 metre break which resulted in Sean Taylor kicking a penalty.17-29.
Hertford saved the best till last and some great breakdown work initially from Jack Elston and Harry Morgan led to a turnover ball, which they nearly scored from. Hertford continued to attack and after a very good box kick from Mitchell, Hertford got a turnover ball which Ollie Cain made a break from and off loaded to Kyle Lemon and he then gave a great pass for Sean Taylor to score under the posts. Southend 17-36 Hertford. Josh Hewitt then came on at this point for Geoff Hughes.
The final whistle blew and with Barnes and Tring losing, it puts Hertford 3 points clear at the top of the league. There is a long way to go but Hertford are going in the right direction. To be 17 points down after 17 minutes and then get a red card, the character shown by the players was immense and everyone dug deep to get the result. They could quite easily have thrown in the towel but did not let the adversities get to them. Special mention must be made of Jack Mitchell, who epitomised the spirit within the squad and even though he has played on the wing for most of the season did really well at 9.
The boys would also like to thank the supporters who made the game on a rather chilly day!!