Letchworth 38 Brentwood 23
Electrifying Letchworth Shock Brentwood
This time last season, Letchworth were struggling at the bottom of the table. As one of only four teams unbeaten this year, they entertained Brentwood, who shared that distinction, for the most meaningful test to date.
That test was passed with honours as Legends produced a scintillating first half display netting five tries, against the elements. If there were any doubts as to Brentwood’s credibility, they responded with power and intelligence to shade the second period.
Jimmy Tirrels selection was hampered by his trio of military men being abstracted for manoeuvres. He had the luxury of calling on veterans Martin Kirby
and Jag Johal to bolster the forwards, while the rejuvenated (if that is possible when your twenty first birthday is a fortnight away) Rick Streets grasped his opportunity with both hands.
Brentwood were given a taste of things to come from the kick off. Their catcher, rooted to the floor, waited for the ball to drop into his arms. Tom Cowley, quicker in thought and deed beat him to the catch and seconds later Streets was flying down the opposite wing.
From the resulting scrum deep in Brentwood territory, the visitors were able to use the elements with an eighty metre relieving kick.
The pattern was repeated as Kris Cottenden
broke down his wing, supported by the tireless Joe Shaw. This break was returned with interest from the boot of Brentwood’s ten.
In the set scrums, Letchworth worked hard to contain the experience and size of their opponents, but in line outs and broken play, they jinked, linked and weaved their magic from all angles.
Running and offloading by Tom Cowley was superb and infectious. Steve
Mahoney and Jag Johal, his back row mates were never far away. Martin Day, Barry Mellor
and Robin French
caught the bug and Alex Hughes at scrum half provided a stream of quick ball.
Jimmy Tirrel revelled in the freedom, opening the score after a Cowley French combination. Brentwood responded with a long range penalty, but were left grasping at shadows as Letchworth increased their intensity.
Martin Day’s break was finished by Jag Johal to extend the lead, with a second penalty from Brentwood as a token offering.
and Martin Kirby
worked in a less spectacular but equally important manner to clear rucks and mauls for their mates. Dan Roberts
Smith joined the party, carrying and linking well to cause mayhem in defence ranks.
Further entertainment was provided as Brentwood’s centre and Jag put on a fine display of handbag swinging. So impressed was the referee, he allowed them a ten minute rest each, courtesy of a yellow card.
With more space as the swingers sat on their naughty step, tries came thick and fast. Following a caught and driven line out, Barry Mellor
was on hand to take an inside pass for the next.
From the kick off, Alex Hughes broke blind, feeding Joe Shaw at pace. Bentwood steeled themselves for his wrecking ball approach. They were undone as he slipped the ball to Rick Streets. He had sixty meters to run, but no defenders to trouble him. Under the posts for the try.
When they did get possession, Brentwood kicked well. Their pack, who will trouble most teams, gained some respite from chasing shadows. From a line out they muscled over for a try of their own.
From there, it was business as usual. Letchworth handled the ball with confidence, running good lines, denying Brentwood the chance to get hands on to slow matters down. A series of penalties, aided by some weak defence saw Jag Johal cross for his second.
Alex Hughes rubbed salt in the wound with an eighty per cent conversion rate to give Letchworth a deserved 33-11 half time lead. It was the manner of the lead which had been so pleasing.
The exemplary Brentwood supporters were generous with their compliments and nervous about the approaching forty minutes. Letchworth had achieved whilst playing into a stiff breeze and low lying sun. Against the elements, how would Brentwood survive a further onslaught?
In the word of the small insurance selling stuffed animal, simples. Get hold of the ball, keep it tight and get the Letchworth pack involved in an arm wrestle.
They were helped by a right wobbly knocker moment from the re start. The simple kick was poorly fielded. This was compounded by an attempt to get straight back to French/Fijian style rugby, when pragmatism was required.
From the resulting scrum under their posts, Letchworth were rocked back, then conceded a try following a delicate chip through. A warning sign if ever.
Brentwood, roused from their slumber, became a very different and dangerous animal. Letchworth, with the recklessness of youth, faced the challenge head on. They proceeded to take second best, as the Essex men showed they had considerable skill to go with their power.
One defensive kick relieved the pressure. The visitors full back is clearly a good player, he suffered a momentary blip as too much time syndrome overwhelmed him. What should have been a simple clearance resulted in a five metre scrum to Letchworth.
A good set provided the platform. Hughes to Tirrel and a trade mark arcing run saw the speedster slice through the defence for a try. Letchworth were out of sight now.
Brentwood had the last word. A series of scrums created the final score for the visitors.
Jimmy Tirrel is imposing his silky style on this young side. In full flow, they are a delight to watch. They also have the propensity to induce a state of parental fretting. So typical of young men, they spot danger signs, but have to just dip a toe in to see how dangerous things are.
It makes for a great spectacle. As they now sit top of the table, it would be churlish to attempt to bring them to heel.