MATCH REPORT: Hertford 31-3 Sutton & Epsom
The joyful chants from the home changing room said it all as Hertford staged a brilliant second half blitz to dispatch high-flying Sutton and Epsom.
Everything finally came together for Hertford as they ran in five tries in impressive fashion against the visitors, playing patient rugby at high intensity to quite literally stop the visitors in their tracks.
The first half saw plenty of errors, as both sides struggled with the miserable conditions, and Sutton’s Sam Hurely gave them a 26th minute lead after slotting over a simple penalty attempt. Moments earlier Hertford prop Geoff Hughes had been sin-binned for an apparent shoulder tackle.Hertford’s defence did superbly to repel any Sutton attacks and back at full strength, the hosts finished the half strongly.
They went ahead with a superbly engineered try, going through several phases with powerful pick and go before the ball was spread wide via the front row for Jack Mitchell to go over in the corner. Ben Lloyd missed a difficult touchline conversion.
The second half opened in spectacular fashion for Hertford as they scored straight from a great Lloyd kick-off. Sutton couldn’t take the ball cleanly and knocked on close to their 5m line. The ensuing scrum saw a tremendous rolling maul, with the referee awarding a penalty try as Sutton tried to stop it illegally.
Leading 12-3 Hertford never looked back, and with a combination of power and passion from the forwards and backs, starved Sutton of possession and kept them pinned in their own half for long periods.
Replacement Dave Archer went over for the third score after finding a hole in the Sutton defence following a relentless drive towards the line. Lloyd hit an upright with his conversion attempt.
The bonus point score came with just over 10 minutes to go, as scum-half Michael Sargent picked up under the posts following yet another powerful shove for the Hertford pack.
With Lloyd adding the extras it was 22-3, and Hertford wrapped up a comfortable victory right at the death with another super score from a rolling maul, this time Tim Matthews touching down. A wonderful touchline conversion from Lloyd was the icing on the cake as the referee blew the final whistle.
Hertford head coach Kanwailjit Basra said: “We changed the game plan around completely.
“It’s about keeping possession and getting over the gain line.
“The leaders in the team have stepped up like Michael Sargent, Ben Lloyd and Josh Corcoran and the boys have followed them.
“I thought the crowd were great as well, they really got behind us.
“We’ve done a lot of work with our catch and drive with coach Robbie Morris and Jimmy Tyrell has been a really positive influence as well.
“It’s a buy in from everyone in this team and I’ve said it again and again they’ll come out fighting and play for the Hertford badge – that’s what it’s all about.
“We haven’t had the greatest start to the season but we’ve come back fighting. You realise when you go through a bad patch who your leaders are, squads come closer together.
“No one has thrown the towel in and everyone has been positive.
“We’ve moved forward and found solutions. Perhaps we should have found those earlier, but we have now.”