Brave effort but Datchworth fall short in Herts Presidents’ Tankard trophy

PUBLISHED: 15:09 29 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:09 29 April 2018

James Watt (left) scored two tries for Datchworth in the Herts Presidents' Tankard final at Allianz Park. Picture: Danny Loo

James Watt (left) scored two tries for Datchworth in the Herts Presidents' Tankard final at Allianz Park. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2018

Datchworth reproduced the type of stirring display that has been a feature of their late-season recovery but it wasn’t enough to stop Hemel Hempstead claiming the Herts Presidents’ Tankard in a 46-20 success.

Playing against a side from the division higher, Datchworth were never overawed at Saracens’ Allianz Park and for long periods gave as good, if not better, than their opponents.

But the two halves gave the village side a clue as to what is needed to survive up the leagues; a clinical attack and a rock-solid defence.

The attacking side came to the fore in the first half.

Camelot only created a handful of opportunities in those opening 40 minutes but they made sure they took the lot.

The first on four minutes saw Jake Field pick the ball up on his own 22 after a Datchworth fumble but the big second row raced the length of the pitch despite the frantic and vain attempt of Jake Edhodage to stop him.

The second saw Ryan Doyle find the gap out wide and the third was thanks to a break through the middle that Aled Gamble finished off.

All three were converted by Rio Dunkley but the winger was involved in a controversial moment later in the half when a high tackle stopped Edhodage in his tracks with the line just 10 metres away.

The referee decided that a yellow card was suitable enough punishment, turning down any pleas for a penalty try.

It was a minor reprieve though as James Watt steamed over in the same corner where he had scored nine minutes earlier.

Those scores together with Richard Mills’ penalty pulled the men in green back to 21-13 and as they retreated to the warmth of the dressing room at half-time, they would have still harboured hopes of a comeback.

However, those hopes were soon hit by a second Gamble try, just two minutes after the restart, touching down at the foot of the post despite a Datchworth man hanging on to him.

And as the second half went on it was that rock-solid defence that came to the fore.

Datchworth dominated both possession and territory following that score for the next 20 minutes they found the Hemel line almost impregnable.

Even when they camped inside the blue 22, defenders seemed to knock them back and it was out of nothing that Stuart Young went over unopposed, Sam Brunton quickly dropping the extras.

Dunkley stretched the lead slightly five minutes later with a penalty in front of the posts and another kick left Datchworth with a mountain to face in the last eight minutes.

It was a mountain they couldn’t get close to and two Hemel tries late on gave the score a slightly undeserved lop-sided look.

Datchworth: McBroom, Blackwell, Gudgin, D.Blackwell, Holgate, Simons, Edhodage, Young, Wood, Brunton, Wood, Rice, Nolan, Mills, Bennett

Replacements: Thornton, Holland, Hollis

Tries: Watt 23, 32, Young 62

Conversions: Brunton 62

Penalties: Mills 11

Hemel Hempstead: Cox, Thompson, Boyd-Barnes, Field, Thorp, Massa, Pigott, R.Merrett, McDougall, Hearn, Dunkley, Doyle, Gamble, N.Merrett, McKenzie

Replacements: Alcock, Carder, Aitken, Stowe

Tries: Field 4, Doyle 13, Gamble 21, 42, Stowe 78, N.Merrett 80

Conversions: Dunkley 4, 13, 21, 42, 78

Penalties: Dunkley 67, 72

HT: Datchworth 13 Hemel Hempstead 21

Referee: Tony Leake

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