Herts good bet for shield final after seeing off Hampshire

PUBLISHED: 10:39 18 May 2009 | UPDATED: 22:11 26 October 2009

HERTFORDSHIRE took another giant step towards the RFU County Championship Shield final when they beat Hampshire 46-7 at Basingstoke on Saturday. Seven tries were scored as good use was made of a plentiful supply of ball from the lineout and the loose. H

HERTFORDSHIRE took another giant step towards the RFU County Championship Shield final when they beat Hampshire 46-7 at Basingstoke on Saturday.

Seven tries were scored as good use was made of a plentiful supply of ball from the lineout and the loose.

Hampshire won the scrummage contest, but even with the wind at their backs in the second half they could only manage one try thanks to some very intelligent Herts defence.

The visitors had two enforced changes from the side that beat Eastern Counties the week before, but that did not upset their teamwork.

Scrum half Mark Evans again caught the eye with some electric breaks and the kicking from hand and place kicking by his club colleague, Richard Gregg, was excellent.

But once again it was the forwards and especially the back row that laid the foundation to success. In the line out they took at least three against the throw and effectively disrupted others.

They were quick to the breakdown and defended well, especially in the second half when Hants had the wind at their backs.

The home forwards did have the edge at the scrums where they won three strikes against the head.

The away side kicked off with a strong wing behind them and it was not long before they opened the scoring. Herts won a line out on the home 22 and from the subsequent maul, Evans broke past the Hants back row and sprinted over for a try that Gregg converted from near the touch line.

The visitors kept up the pressure and Hants were pinned inside their own half. Hertford player Chris Rainbow and Gregg combined to almost create a score and then the visitors successfully recycled the ball a number of times getting nearer the line until Jim Remfry drove over to take the score to 12 points.

Although Herts lost a ball against the head and were penalised at the scrum, they continued to keep the play in the Hants half.

On the half hour an excellent Gregg penalty kick put the ball into touch 10 metres out. The ball was won and run to the left, recycled and Ian Crompton sprinted over in the right corner, Gregg adding points with an excellent conversion.

From the restart, Gregg kicked long from his 22 to set up a line out 15 metres from the home line.

Hampshire knocked on their possession, Herts won the subsequent scrum and Tom Newton came into the line beating the defence with a lovely dummy to cross the line.

Gregg then landed another excellent conversion from wide out.

Herts dominated the opening stages of the second half despite playing into the strong wind.

The home kick-off failed to make 10 metres and from the subsequent scrum Steve Small made a great break to take play to the Hants 22.

Their relieving kick was run back by Newton, who was then taken out by the Hants flanker who consequently missed the next 10 minutes play.

The visitors kicked for a line out, won the ball and a Rainbow drive gave Greg space to score wide out.

Herts then injected fresh legs into the back row with the appearance of Ian Hardcastle.

Good tacking and a lack of panic meant that Herts were able to keep possession in their 22 rather than kick the ball to the opposition. However after 15 minutes play Hampshire finally broke through via fly half Simon Humberstone, who scored under the posts, Matt Hart adding the conversion.

Minutes later Herts responded through a Gregg penalty.

There was no further score for 20 minutes, but then skipper Dave Archer broke from a maul on his 10 metre line slipped the ball on the half way line to Hardcastle who showed a good turn of speed to reach the try line.

Finally as the game went into injury time Handre Schmidt crossed the line and replacement Tom Coleman added the conversion to give Hertfordshire an emphatic 46-7 victory.

On Saturday Herts meet Middlesex at Staines, kick off 3.00pm but there will have to be some very strange results to stop Herts playing at Twickenham the following week.


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