Watford finished off their season in style, sealing promotion with a comprehensive victory away at West London.
Conditions were perfect for supporting, and after casting envious glances at the well hydrated Watford support it was time to focus on the job in hand. West London were out early, conducting a full and intense warm up. Any thoughts that this would be an end of season walk in the park were quickly dispelled.
We were focussed and sharp in the warm up. Lineouts were back to their best, the backs looked sharp and hungry for the ball. After a slight delay due to the referee being held up in traffic it was go time. After last weeks painfully slow start (and middle, and finish), we flew out of the box and were on the front foot immediately. The pack carried hard, the backs always looking threatening with the ball in hand. After last weeks capitulation, a renewed focus on the set piece in training was paying dividends with the scrum and lineout imperious. The lineout provided Watford with their first score, a devastating catch and drive from the 22 giving Martin his first of the afternoon.
A lapse in concentration allowed West London to strike back soon after, but a penalty from Josh helped steady the ship. An infringement from the pest at the resulting kick off gave West a pop at goal to level which narrowly drifted wide – this was to be the last time they threatened the scoreboard.
Naturally a promotion required a promotion party – at said party I managed to destroy a big chunk of the game from my memory, so apologies for those who are missed out from the rest of the try scoring / report.
With Watford’s rolling maul on fire, the home side reasonably assumed a lineout would be driven over. This wasn’t the case, Ham taking one off the top and showing great strength and awareness to dot down. Roelfy selflessly assisted by pushing him over, I selfishly lingered on his shoulder telling him to pop.
The next lineout went off the top, Sam switching with Bram and then utilising the force to waltz through the opposition pack handing people off left right and centre for a great solo score. He also scored another one but Mr Jaegerbomb means I can’t remember it too clearly.
The bonus point was secured when I managed to score from a classic set piece move (wasn’t the infamous colts ball for once), and then Yatesy scored the first of his brace.
At some point half time came, the message was simple. Keep the pressure on and don’t let the opposition back in the game. We listened, and the next 40 minutes were almost entirely one way traffic.
Yatesy and Sam added their second scores (apologies for lack of detail, blame the post match port / champagne / Guinness etc). Pest then scored a deserved try, swooping on a loose ball before showing a clean pair of heels to beat the cover defence and dot down. In the midst of all the scoring, Josh was enjoying a fine day with the boot and (I think) slotted all kicks bar one, even adding a try to cap off an impressively high scoring season from full back.
The maths tell me there was one other try scorer but I can’t for the life of me think who it was. Therefore, this is how I like to think it happened. Fielding a long punt behind his own try line, Skinny dummied a kick to touch in order to throw off the first of the chasing players. He then showed superb footwork to beat the second man before boshing the West London prop as he exited our 22. A single shaft of sunlight beamed down from above, shining off the ball carriers rippling bicep as he crossed half way. With the cover coming across, Skinny sent up the mother of all kicks. As the ball arced into the brilliant sunshine Skin dawg was forced to continue his run off the field of play, boshing every single supporter on the sideline before re-entering the pitch and catching the ball one handed as he crossed the line. He then selflessly passed to the supporting Silver for an easy finish under the sticks.
So, a final score of 64-7 to the boys in red white and blue means we go up in second place. We managed to beat every single side in the league at least once and as mentioned by Trudey after the game on Saturday we did things the hard way. With every single game away from home in phase 2, we banished our reliance on home advantage and ground out significant victories, particularly at Mill Hillians and Thamesians where we had to come from behind. The camaraderie and spirit amongst the players is a real pleasure to be a part of, with numbers at training over the last few weeks testament to the entire squads desire to improve the club and push both sides to fulfil their undoubted potential. The 2nd XV goes from strength to strength, and the number of debuts for Pie this season for players graduating from the youth section of the club shows how bright the future is for Watford.
Congratulations to everyone involved in a fantastic season and particular thanks to Hammill, Pie, Sean, Trudey and Ainsley for all the hard work on and off the pitch. Bring on next season!