Dramatic win for Hertfordshire U20s in Sussex but frustrations over lateness of the score
PUBLISHED: 16:47 04 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:51 05 February 2019
Hertfordshire Stags began their Jason Leonard U20 County Championship season with a dramatic 24-19 win against Sussex in Horsham.
Trailing 19-17 as the game entered the final play they were awarded a penalty just inside their own 22.
And with no option but to go for broke, they tapped it quickly before moving it left up the wing.
That charge was stopped short of the Sussex line but with support arriving quickly they were able to recycle the ball and former Harpenden St George’s captain George Clarke crossed for the winning score.
He had been outstanding all game in the line-out and with Hertfordshire also on top in the scrums, the win came with a frustration that they hadn’t secured victory much earlier and more comfortably.
Poor handling and a lack of tactical nous were the main causes of their inability to convert superior possession into more points, although credit also has to go to Sussex, who saved their best for the last quarter of the game where they overhauled the Stags lead.
Hertfordshire started brightly enough on the artificial surface and Rohen Finnegan timed his entry to the line perfectly to open the scoring.
That was after 10 minutes but they somehow not only failed to score for the remainder of the half but also went into the break level at 5-5 after Tom Heath scored after 38 minutes.
The second half continued with the visitors’ pack giving them the advantage and they looked to have finally put pay to the home resistance with two tries in eight minutes.
Steff Jones got the first of them, crashing over following a catch and drive, and a line-out provided the second too, this time the ball being spun out to Old Albanian’s Joe Hall which Sam Leto, another from Harpenden St George’s, converted.
But suddenly Sussex awoke and when Owen McLoughlin and George Brown scored with a little less than 10 minutes to go, both of which were converted by Will Sanderson, the hosts were in front.
From there it looked like an odds-on home win but there was still the late drama to come.
The Stags next match will be against Eastern Counties in Shelford on February 24 while their final pool match against Kent takes place at Cheshunt on March 17.