The 2013/14 season has already been one to savour for Southgate RFC. Back to back victories in the first two games of the season, including the emotional roller coaster ride of Amersham last week, meant that the mighty Southgate travelled up the A10 with their heads held high. Hertford is always a tough fixture, however there now seemed to be a new found belief and buzz around the Southgate team.
Despite a number of notable absences, a strong Southgate team took to the field. The absences of the Irish contingent (who had decided that the all Ireland Gaelic football final in Dublin was more attractive than a chilly afternoon in deepest darkest Hertfordshire) meant that a number of debut starts were awarded to Jonathan and Dan, with Stefan making his debut from the bench. Another notable change from last week was Sam Hart starting at prop for the first time in a year.
Southgate set out their intentions early. Despite some strong early forward play from the Hertford pack, Southgate settled their nerves through Taff scoring an early breakaway try. Following last week’s game of two halves, it was great to see Southgate starting strong. From then on, the mighty ‘Gate became dominant as they grew in confidence. The addition of Sam to the front row helped Southgate’s dominance in the scrums. Simple rugby was the order of the day and the execution of the basics was much better than our previous outings this year. As the game progressed the back line began to turn the screw; the crash ball from Kieran and the pace of Tom, Sam and Phil provided too much for an experienced Hertford side. Solid defence kept Hertford out and strong running from all of the backs produced more tries in the first half from Kieran and another from Taff.
The loss of Justin at half time to back issues did not dampen Southgate’s forwards’ dominance, especially at the scrum as Tim joined Paul in the second row. The addition of Jon Brand to the back row gave extra pace to the pack and Southgate continued to push forward. We will never hear the end of the fact that Taff scored his second hat-trick in as many weeks. He has now scored 8 tries in 3 games; let’s hope this record continues as the season progresses. Another powerful run from Kieran produced his second and at five tries to nil, the game was all but over.
It was then the turn of the forwards to show off what they could do. A textbook move from a line-out close to the Hertford line produced a much deserved forwards’ try. Sam touched down to score the sixth try of the match – just rewards for an impressive display at prop.
The moment of the match however came from another prop, and stalwart of the Southgate team – Jack Stapleton. Jack may not be known for his flair and running, but he proved that he is becoming a complete forward by storming half the length of the pitch, bustling his way through a series of tepid midfield tackles to make 40m through heavy traffic before releasing Tom just a few paces out. There were of course screams of ‘lazy’ as he decided to not to score the try himself (it looked like jug-avoidance to me! ) There was a look of disgust from Taff as he realised that yet again any chance that he might have had of winning the man of the match award had been thwarted by a prop running 40m.
This was the third week in a row that Southgate has scored 41 points, however the most pleasing statistic of the game was the clean sheet. If Southgate can continue in a similar vein in the coming weeks, 2013 could be a great year.
Big thanks to Tim for the write up!