Herts fail to show enough Eastern promise
PUBLISHED: 18:34 06 May 2008 | UPDATED: 21:27 26 October 2009
RFU County Championship Shield Eastern Counties 33 Hertfordshire 23 HERTS opened their County Championship Shield campaign with a disappointing defeat by 10 points to Eastern Counties at West Norfolk RFC on Saturday. There was not much to choose between
RFU County Championship Shield
Eastern Counties 33 Hertfordshire 23
HERTS opened their County Championship Shield campaign with a disappointing defeat by 10 points to Eastern Counties at West Norfolk RFC on Saturday.
There was not much to choose between the teams but the home side made the most of their chances whereas Herts, including Welwyn back Jon Child, didn't.
There was no real pattern to the game for long periods with both packs evenly matched.
The Herts back row had a good game and the forwards held their own in the scrums.
However, the real difference was in the backs, where defensive errors and some poor handling by the visitors gave the hosts the opening for three of their tries.
The opening stages of the game were fairly loose but when, after 10 minutes, Eastern Counties had a lineout five metres from the Herts line they took full advantage.
A catch and drive resulted in No 8 Mike Howard touching down for the opening score.
Although the restart went direct into touch, Herts soon won possession back and took play to the home 22.
There Eastern Counties presented Richard Gregg with an easy penalty.
Hertfordshire kept the initiative for the next 10 minutes through some good tactical kicking and took the lead.
The away side won the ball 15 metres out and spun it left.
Full-back Tom Newton came into the line and touched down.
Gregg put over the conversion to add the extra points.
Minutes later the visitors really should have extended their advantage but knocked on with the line at their mercy.
Instead, it was the hosts who scored next.
Eastern Counties kicked a penalty into the corner and set up a drive from the lineout.
The ball was then spun out and wing Tom Holt easily beat the cover to score a try that Peter Clifford converted.
Things hotted up in the last 10 minutes of the half as the lead change hands twice more.
Firstly, Gregg kicked a penalty, with the aid of an upright, following a home infringement at a ruck.
Then, just when Herts thought they would have the lead at the half-time whistle, a back move broke down.
Eastern Counties' fly hacked through and Rob Clymer gathered the ball and scored to make it 17-13.
The second half couldn't have started better for Herts when, in the first minute, Gregg dropped a goal after his team had won a ruck on the home 22.
Herts had the best of the next five minutes or so.
But when they conceded a penalty some 35 metres from their line, Clifford added the three points with ease.
The home team went further ahead five minutes later when fly-half Clifford eased past some indifferent tackling to score a try that he also converted.
Herts reduced the gap midway through the second period when Welwyn's Child intercepted on the halfway line and made it to the line.
Although Child had been forced wide, Gregg added the conversion with a fine kick.
However, Herts knocked on the restart and played the ball from an offside position to present Eastern Counties with another three points through the boot of Clifford.
Chasing a seven-point deficit, Herts had some opportunities but they broke down through poor handling.
It was the home team that scored the only points in the last quarter through another Clifford penalty.
In all it was a disappointing performance from Herts that will make the task all the harder when the county side play host to Cornwall this Saturday at Hertford RFC, Hoe Lane, kick-off 3pm.
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