Oh So Close....
Watford gain point in heart-breaking defeat away at Saracens Amateurs.
After a close game in the reverse fixture, we were expecting nothing less this time around and Sarries didn’t disappoint. Watford were finally starting to enjoy some consistency in selection and with changes to a minimum from the previous game against Barnet, we were hopeful of getting a result.
Sarries started brightly and it was clear that they intended to play an expansive game early on, looking to bring their pacey back three into the game at every opportunity as expected whilst Watford were clearly the more dominant pack when it came to the scrum. After a cagey opening ten minutes where we didn’t see a great deal of the ball, the home side opened the scoring following a flowing backs move. Extras missed, 5-0 Sarries. Watford struck back almost immediately with a Dunners penalty after an opposition player strayed offside to bring us within 2.
Whilst Watford were clearly in the ascendancy at the scrum, unfortunately the same couldn’t be said at the lineout. Sarries used their no 7 to great effect and whilst we were close to disrupting on numerous occasions his extra spring ensured a steady supply of quality ball that their scrum couldn’t always supply. It was the Saracens lineout which provided their second score, quick ball off the top saw the men in blacks fly half take the ball to the gain line before a well-timed pass saw the full back glide under the posts for a converted try and 12-3.
This roused Watford who time and time again sent their ball carriers rumbling up the park. Another dominant scrum saw Dunners slot his second penalty of the afternoon, before the boys in red white and blue went on the attack straight from the re-start. An intelligent kick through from was chased hard, Sarries covering player forced back over his own line for a 5m scrum. With all expecting another dominant Watford drive, the referee opted for a Sarries free kick for not striking at the ball (seemed fairly clear form the back of the scrum that the ball has been hooked, but hey ho).
The visitors were however not to be denied. A penalty was put into the home team’s 22, and despite Sarries managing to haul down the initial drive Appleton was on hand to pick and drive over. Extras missed and one point in it at half time, 12-11.
The second half saw a Saracens side come out refreshed and hungry for work. The men in black dominated possession and territory during the opening exchanges, a stretched Watford defence eventually conceding after a well-judged crossfield kick saw the winger dot down. Watford almost immediately struck back, a quickly taken penalty from man of the Match Dunlop finding skipper Hammill who crashed through under the sticks. Dunners added the extras to put us one point ahead with 20 minutes left to play.
The pace of the game (and no doubt a few too many mince pies during the break) was taking its toll on both sides, with the game opening up. Watford came close to extending their lead after a fine run from Bees but sadly for us it was Sarries who scored next after taking advantage of some poor blindside defence from the visitors. Extras were missed, meaning with 10 minutes left Watford were 4 points down.
We threw everything at our hosts in a desperate attempt to wrestle back the advantage. Tired bodies dragging themselves off the floor to tirelessly carry into the heart of the opposition defence, grinding towards the whitewash. A series of drives took Watford into the Saracens 22, before a well-timed Butcher pass found Martin Lee who crashed through to score what appeared to all to be a clear 5 pointer. The only (and most important) person to disagree was the referee, much to the chagrin of the Watford players and supporters. This was unfortunately the closest we came to snatching victory, Sarries stealing a lineout on the final play to clear to touch for the win.
MOTM – Dunners. Great control from 10.
WOTW – Mappleton. Can’t remember why…?