Hertfordshire youngsters' Twickenham dreams stolen away by semi-final loss to Lancashire
PUBLISHED: 06:52 17 April 2019
Hertfordshire Stags hopes of a Twickenham appearance were dashed at the final fence as they lost 22-12 to Lancashire in the Jason Leonard U20 County Championship.
They scored the first and last tries of the match at Cheshunt but in between they found the strength of the Lancashire pack too much at scrum time, denying them the chance to unleash their talented backs.
There was a small crumb of comfort though for Welwyn's Josh Milton as he claimed the inaugural Peter Baines Trophy, awarded to the standout Herts player during the championship.
The Stags started brightly enough though and after getting into a good attacking position, Oaklands College's Tommy Reilly joined the line in midfield and touched down.
Luke Bouchier of Nottingham Trent Uni added the conversion to give the Stags the lead with seven minutes played.
But gradually the visiting pack put pressure on the Stags' scrum and a break by Jack Granby took Lancashire to the Hertfordshire line before a penalty and yellow card reduced the hosts to 14 men.
Shortly after Granby picked up from the back of a five-metre scrum and Henry Pearson's conversion levelled the scores.
Another set-piece scrum close to the line ended with Matt Gallagher scoring and it took the north-west outfit into a 12-7 half-time lead.
The Stags had a golden opportunity to reduce the deficit at the start of the second half but a straight-forward penalty was missed.
And after 10 minutes Lancashire were 12 points clear thanks to a third try, this one again scored by Gallagher and converted by Pearson and again after the home side had seen yellow.
The response from Hertfordshire was positive and it saw Lancashire run into card trouble for indiscipline, the first of them being red.
But despite the numerical superiority and with the Stags having given their all, Lancashire killed the game off with a Pearson penalty.
However, Hertfordshire would get some reward for their persistence with four minutes to go.
From a line-out replacement full-back Sam Jones of Old Albanian came into the line to score an unconverted try.
Lancs face Yorkshire in the final.