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1st XV - Match centre

Eton Manor
Letchworth Garden City
Sat 11 Feb 14:30 - London & SE Division - London 1 North Full time

London League 1: ETON MANOR 12 - LETCHWORTH GC 19

Another fine win on the road for improving Letchworth side

By Brian Burke

A well deserved victory on the road for Legends on Saturday after a fiercely contested game down at Eton Manor. The eastenders had won by ten clear points at Legends Lane in October and were expecting more of the same at Nutter Lane but those who have watched Letchworth improve since the Tring game knew an upset could be on the cards and so it proved. With three great tries, two converted by Glyn Hughes, the visitors were worthy winners. The home side did not make things easy and for long periods controlled the battle up front with their driving maul being a speciality. The win was a great 18th birthday present for scrum-half Dan Duke who linked well with the ex-London Welsh out half. The centre pairing of Ifereimi Vuki and Fran Denny was also crucial in this win. However man of the match in the backs was definitely number 14 Dave Hill who had some storming runs, cheeky chips ahead and created two tries for his centre.

Manor had the best of it for the first 10 minutes and went close on several occasions. Letchworth broke out with an amazingly daring cross kick from Luke Mongston which found Hill who got to near the halfway before being brought down. Another break by Vuki also saw skipper Richard Stokes on hand only to be brought down on the Manor 22. Letchworth also lost inspirational forward Rambo Hughes at this early stage but he was well replaced by Joe Alison who had been out for two months through injury.

The score remained nil nil until the 33rd minute when a great drive by Eton Manor saw the ball set up for their fly half to go through and score near the posts. There was no problem with the conversion and this remained the score until half time though Manor wasted a certain try right at the death of the first half.

Letchworth came out of the blocks with new zest after half time and started to really take the game to Manor. Fran Denny fed great ball to Hill who battered his way down to the 22. From the breakdown first Stokes then Hatch set the ball up until Glyn Hughes with a great show and go glided imperiously under the posts and then converted his own kick.

Manor swept back down the field but once again it was the axis of Denny and Hill who brought the ball right back up into the home sides half. A chip by Hill saw the Manor scrum-half fumble and the winger grabbed the ball again only to be brought down near the line, but Fran Denny was there to go over and score a great try. A great conversion from Hughes from one metre in made it 7 - 14.

Manor, who were playing in national three last year, were not going to just let things go Letchworth's way and attacked for a sustained 10 minute period. Whilst the visitors employed desperate defence there was no stopping a drive over for the home side to narrow the scores to 12 - 14. There then occurred a curious incident when the Manor sideline team could not find a kicking tee for the converter and he had to rush his kick thus pushing it narrowly wide and keeping legends noses just in front.

Legends kept calm and played their set patterns as well as using good ball retention in the last ten minutes. Once again Denny set Hill free on a glorious run. He set up the ball for Garvey to rumble on and then Mighty Mouse Oscar Robinson went low and made several yards. Duke got the ball to Hughes whose mighty pass looped over several heads before reaching the safe hands of Denny who galloped in for Letchworth's third. Hughes was narrowly wide with the kick but just as the Manor forwards had strangled Letchworth in the first half so in the dying minutes Legends would not let the blues out of their own 22, and the whistle blew with Manor only 10 yards from their own line.

So another fine win on the road for North Herts leading side and they must do it all again next week against bogey team Old Priorians in another away game which they will hope to win. And on this form who could doubt it!

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League table

# Team Pl Pts
8. Saffron Walden 26 55
9. Old Priorians 26 51
10. Letchworth Garden City 25 50
11. Fullerians 25 49
12. Sudbury 25 28
13. Chelmsford 26 24
14. Barking 25 13

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