Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light
Watford kept their survival hopes alive with a bruising bonus point victory over UCSOB.
With a squad of only 16 showing a number of changes from the previous week, one could be forgiven for thinking that the match was a guaranteed five pointer for the visitors. What a team sheet doesn’t show is the passion and self-belief which permeates through this Watford side and whilst there can be no arguing we are in the proverbial doo-doo we certainly won’t be going gentle into that good night.
With the fixture being played at fortress Radlett Road due to the UCS pitches being savaged by the ‘ Beast from the East’, Watford started out like a side who knew their future in HM1 was on the line. With Keelan Tullett making his 1st 1st XV start alongside the newly slim line Tathan Williams at 12 we were treated to a glimpse of the future, with the two youngsters controlling proceedings superbly. The Watford pack had parity in the set piece, but more pleasingly had addressed the breakdown issues which had given us so many problems during the last couple of games and as such were able to provide Sean Silver at 9 with quick, clean ball. Holloway was particularly menacing in the centres, always making ground with the ball in hand.
Watford pressure eventually told, Taters gliding through from a first phase set piece ball. With only the full back to beat, a lovely floated pass found Josh outside him in support to dot down. Keelan added the extras and we were 7-0 up.
UCS immediately came back and enjoyed a period of sustained pressure in the Watford 22. The home side fronted up superbly, repelling wave after wave of UCS attacks. The red, white and blue wall eventually broke, the visitors driving over from a rolling maul for 7-5.
With the half drawing to a close, Watford were able to extend their lead after a fine blindside break was superbly finished off by Josh cutting in under the sticks. 14-5 and time for a breather.
Josh, realising that he was on a hat trick decided to withdraw himself for the second half in order to save his pennies for later, bringing Jamesy onto the pitch.
Watford carried on where they left off in the first half and started the stronger of the two sides. Unfortunately we weren’t quite clinical enough at the business end and UCS eventually cleared their lines and went on the attack themselves. Watford defended well, but were perhaps too eager to push up and apply pressure conceding a number of penalties for offside. From one such infringement the visiting side took a quick tap to catch the us sleeping, scoring and converting to bring themselves within 2. Things went from bad to worse, Watford killing the ball from the re-start to ship 3 points and concede the lead for the first time in the game.
A sense of déjà vu set in, we had been playing well and it looked likely that we would once more be the masters of our own downfall. Thankfully for us, we bucked the trend of the season to rally and came back strongly. A series of penalties in opposition territory saw us eventually re-take the lead, slick hands from forwards and backs putting the impressive Silver in for his first of the afternoon. Extras missed, Watford up 19-15.
If Sean’s first was a fine team effort, his second was all of his own making. The Watford battering ram eventually coughed up possession, a raking touch-finder gathered by Silver just inside the UCS half. With nothing seemingly on, the scrum half / winger / full back (can’t remember where he was at that particular point) grubbered through showing searing pace to beat the cover and secure the Watford bonus point. Tullett added the crucial extras, Watford now two scores clear.
10 minutes left, UCS once more come back with a converted score of their own (uh oh), 2 points in it. With both sides smashing into each other, Watford secured a scrum with a minute remaining. Our composure nearly deserted us, a forward pass gifting possession back to the visitors on the last play of an enthralling game. UCS went through numerous phases, keeping the ball alive in a desperate attempt to manufacture the opportunity to slot a match winning drop goal. With both sides out on their feet, the UCS 10 looked to throw a hail Mary / Finn Russell-esque pass to his winger. Fortunately for Watford, yours truly was having a breather on the wing and was able to get hands to the pass. In a true show of sportsmanship the ball was kicked out rather than me running the length of the field as UCSOB’s deserved a losing bonus point for playing a full part in a cracking match.
MOTM – Taters. Awesome all round display. Credit to Sean & Keelan who were also superb.
WOTW – Radish. Said some mean things to his team mates.