In reality Harpenden outplayed and out-muscled Shelford on a poor day for the peacocks. There was some momentum for Shelford coming in to this match, with back to back wins, and Harpenden losing to Sudbury meant the odds were slightly in Shelford’s favour. Even though the home side scored a converted try within the first couple of minutes, the next 20 minutes or so were a pretty even affair with the scores at 10-3 (Lewis Cracknell with a long range shot at the posts) as both sides tested each other out and defences kept holding. Shelford were kicking for territory, but on reflection perhaps should have kept more of the ball as it proved to be a difficult job to get possession off Harpenden once they settled in to the match and made use of their heavy pack. Keeping the ball fairly tight, but retaining possession for numerous phases leading to tries when Shelford's defence eventually creaked.
Shelford’s set piece had one of those days it would like to forget, the lineout wasn’t functioning and the scrum was dominated by Harpenden, who used this to their benefit by way of penalties and territory. Shelford then began to feel the pressure of the Harpenden heavy weights and a series of injuries meant players were rotated much earlier than planned and certainly for longer than planned. It was just not going well for the team from Cambridgeshire.
On the stroke of half time there were still clear opportunities for the peacocks to get back in the match, but maybe a key moment occurred when they opted for a scrum penalty 5 metres out, instead of taking the points, and after a mix up with the put in they were driven off the ball allowing Harpenden to clear their lines and end the half 13-3 in the lead.
After both sides traded successful penalty kicks 16-6 (Cracknell with another penalty kick) at the start of the second half, it then got worse for the visiting side as through the domination of the scrum and breakdown Shelford received a yellow card for their flanker, Harry Rogerson, followed very quickly by a further yellow to prop Nathan Taylor after conceding a scrum penalty try.
The hope of a comeback were over as the score ticked over for Harpenden with Shelford down to only 13 men on the pitch for a good 9 minutes and a couple of walking wounded lads who were really struggling. 30-6 with the last quarter of the match to go.
When Shelford got back to 15 on the field they finally showed some attacking intent and dominated the last 15 minutes. Captain Mike Gillick grabbing a try (which he converted himself) with a nice break and some good footwork to get the peacocks into double figures at 30-13. And although Shelford finished the match with an unfortunate knock on, just one metre shy of the host's try line, it was a case of too little too late and the result, as well as the 4 points, deservedly went to Harpenden. FT 30-13.
Head Coach Paul Allen said after the match "this is a massive disappointment as I thought we were moving in the right direction coming into this fixture. Harpenden really did well around their set piece and game management, we were second best all over the park. The plus I take from this is that the lads battled all match and kept trying to throw things together even when under such pressure... onward!!"