Watford keep survival dream alive with dominant victory over London French.
On a typically English winters day (cold, wet, windy), both sides knew nothing less than victory would suffice in the push to stay in HM1 in what was sure to be a tense, hard-fought match.
Surprising everyone (including ourselves), Watford started like a team possessed tearing into their Gallic visitors. Despite the greasy conditions, Watford were comfortable in possession looking to move the ball form contact and attack with width at every opportunity. The home side were soon on the scoreboard, Captain Luke Hammill collecting an inside ball from Dunners for 5 points. Paul nailed a tricky conversion and we were 7-0 within the first ten minutes, French having barely had a touch.
Watford were back on the attack almost immediately from the re-start, forwards and backs interlinking with aplomb. Hard, direct carries drove deep into the visitors defence before we were awarded a penalty for a French offside. The ball went into touch, Martin Lee held up just short from a trademark set piece move. The ball was quickly recycled, Radish picking a nice line to score our second. Extras missed, but Watford 12-0 with just over 10 mins gone. A third soon followed, man of the match Josh Wilkinson scoring under the posts following a searing blindside break and we were now one try away from the all-important bonus point.
Credit to French who dug deep and came back into the game. After an extended period of pressure in the Watford 22, a breakdown infringement saw us lucky to keep the score to nil when a penalty struck the upright allowing us to clear. The warning served to galvanise the home side and we soon had the BP in the bag. A sweeping move from left to right saw Clenners galloping up the touchline before finding Beesy lurking in his customary position on the wing to score our fourth.
With time almost up on the clock Dunners made a fine individual break only to be hauled down 5m short of the line. Jack Upton was in support, picking from the subsequent ruck to dot down and give us a very comfortable 29-0 lead at the break.
Knowing how crucial points difference could be when the business end of the season rolls round, the half time break saw the coaches and Ham emphasise to us how important it was to keep on performing.
Which we did. For about 10 minutes anyway. The lineout, which was imperious all afternoon, provided clean ball from the to, Holloway finding Josh steaming into the line from full back to score his second of the afternoon. Extras from Dunners, 36-0 and surely the game in the bag.
Whilst no Watford player will admit to switching off at this point, we were collectively guilty of maybe taking our foot off the gas. This, coupled with French’s realisation that there was nothing to lose, saw some highly entertaining rugby from the visitors as the game began to open up. The Blues threw caution to the wind and scored two high quality (though unconverted) tries to give themselves a glimmer of hope at perhaps taking a 4 try losing BP from the match.
Unfortunately for the visitors, it wasn’t to be and Watford had the last word with Thibaut Fabre scoring his maiden 1st XV try following on from a well worked back row move.
The win means Watford’s hopes of staying in Herts Middlesex 1 remain alive, though we will have to address our woeful away form if we are to remain in the hunt come April. A weekend off this weekend (enjoy the 6 nations and a few Friday beers!) before a tough assignment away to old Actonians on the 17th.
MOTM – Josh Wilkinson. Two tries and a fine all round performance.
WOTW – Martin Lee. Take your pick from: Ran into Dunners as he tried to kick it, threw the ball at Dunners feet when he was about to score, general foot-hands play.