Gallery & Slideshow: Herts finish Shield campaign on a high
PUBLISHED: 12:53 19 May 2008 | UPDATED: 21:49 26 October 2009
RFU County Championship Shield Hertfordshire 42 Oxfordshire 3 HERTS completed their RFU County Shield season on a high note by defeating Oxfordshire 42-3 at Old Albanian RFC on Saturday. Despite scoring six converted tries to a solitary penalty, this wa
RFU County Championship Shield
Hertfordshire 42 Oxfordshire 3
HERTS completed their RFU County Shield season on a high note by defeating Oxfordshire 42-3 at Old Albanian RFC on Saturday.
Despite scoring six converted tries to a solitary penalty, this was not enough to overhaul Cornwall, who topped the group on points difference.
The county side, including Welwyn's Jon Child, ended the pool stages in second place and will rue the missed opportunities in their opening match against Eastern Counties.
Herts were forced to make a number of changes, but the county pack, led by their outstanding back row, once again took control of proceedings.
The scrummage had a bit of trouble early on with opponents Oxfordshire able to wheel and disrupt the Herts ball, but that lessened as the game went on.
The lineout also went well for the home team, despite the odd throw going astray in the strong wind.
However, it was in the loose that Herts really dominated the game.
The back row forwards were quicker to the breakdown and foraged for the ball well, winning good turnover ball.
And when defence was required, the visitors could not cross the home line.
The Herts backs ran every available ball, as if conscious of trying to make up the points difference on Cornwall, and Welwyn's Child was among the scorers.
But early in the game, when dominance had not been gained, this resulted in some frenetic play and a number of mistakes.
However, Herts got their reward in the second half with three well-worked tries.
Acting skipper Richard Gregg was in fine kicking form at his home ground, both tactically and at goal, and converted all six tries, using the tricky wind well.
Heavy rain before the match and a strong blustery wind made a stark contrast to the heatwave of the previous weekend at Hertford and Oxfordshire's kick-off went straight into touch.
Herts used the advantage well and set up an attacking position and soon won a lineout against the throw.
But some over-anxious play resulted in relieving penalties for the visitors and there was no real pattern to the play for the first 10 minutes or so.
Oxfordshire had a good opportunity to take the lead after about 15 minutes following a rare Herts missed tackle, but lost the chance with a knock on.
Hemel Hempstead's Ray Adde and Stevenage player Ian Crompton then combined in a good movement to take play deep into visiting territory.
Although Herts could not make a breakthrough running the ball, a few moments later the ball came loose from a defending scrum and Brent Lemiere grabbed the ball and bustled over for the opening try.
Shortly after the restart, Herts were penalised some 40 metres from their line and Oxfordshire fly-half Alex Steventon kicked a fine penalty.
Herts scrum-half Ryan de la Harpe then broke from well within his half, but following a kick ahead the move broke down.
However, de la Harpe was again to the fore a few minutes later when he intercepted on his own 22, sprinted along the touchline and this time players were on hand.
Welwyn player Child completed the movement with a try.
Herts continued to move the ball from all positions for the remaining 10 minutes of the half and although mistakes were made, the home side were on top at 14-3.
The hosts resumed their attacking approach straight from the restart and almost scored when Chris Rainbow charged down a clearance kick but his attempts to gather eventually ended in a knock on.
Herts kept up the pressure, forcing a couple of five metre scrums, and from the second they ran the ball.
Full-back Kieron Davies entered the line and made space for Adde to score.
A good Gregg kick in the 12th minute forced the visitors to concede another five metre scrum and Hertford forward Alfie Church forced his way over the line.
Herts were now 28-3 up and perhaps relaxing, allowed Oxfordshire their only bit of sustained pressure.
However, they defended a series of attacking lineouts well.
After 25 minutes play, any final hopes of an Oxfordshire recovery were dashed when Rainbow robbed them of the ball when they had a scrum on the Herts 22.
He took play up field and the move was completed by Gregg to take the Herts score to 35 points.
Herts continued to dominate and shortly before the end good turnover ball was converted into a try by Handre Schmidt after Child had made the initial break.
The home county's joy at winning was tempered when just before the final whistle when Rainbow, who had had an outstanding game, dislocated his shoulder.
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