Late flurry sees Herts Stags defeat the Army

PUBLISHED: 13:21 18 February 2009 | UPDATED: 21:43 26 October 2009

A HERTS Stags side featuring Welwyn rugby player Tom Jankowski defeated the Army U20s 18-16 in a pulsating finish. The Stags came back from an eight-point deficit to beat the Army on Sunday by scoring two tries in two minutes, immediately before the final

A HERTS Stags side featuring Welwyn rugby player Tom Jankowski defeated the Army U20s 18-16 in a pulsating finish.

The Stags came back from an eight-point deficit to beat the Army on Sunday by scoring two tries in two minutes, immediately before the final whistle.

When the Army fly-half kicked his third penalty to put his side in front 16-8, the game looked over for Herts.

But an outstanding display by the home side in the last 10 minutes or so of play turned the game on its head.

The hosts kept up the pressure with 10 minutes of added time to play and were rewarded with a penalty.

Although Stuart Smart missed, the Stags attacked from the restart and a storming run by flanker Joe Collins took play to the Army line.

He had support and the ball was moved left and replacement second row Steve Durning touched down in the corner.

At the restart the referee indicated that two minutes were left.

That was enough for the Stags as from the kick-off full-back Henry Robinson broke through he middle.

He linked with his backs and wing Rob Richardson finished off the move wide on the left.

The conversion attempt was followed by the final whistle and the Stags had snatched a nail-biting victory.

Following the disruption caused by the recent weather, the teams were very fortunate that this RFU National U20 Championship match took place at all.

The game was arranged at Tabard RFC with less than 48 hours notice after two previous venues had reported unfit pitches.

Early exchanges showed the sides to be evenly matched, although the Army's better preparation, having played and won one Championship match, did show.

After about 10 minutes the Army began to get the upper hand, but threw a good chance away when they conceded a penalty when driving for the line.

However, on the quarter hour the Stags were penalised at a ruck and the Army fly-half, James Francis, gave his team the lead.

Unfortunately the home side's play at the breakdown earned the displeasure of the referee and numerous penalties were conceded.

Therefore it was somewhat of a surprise when prop Ross Mealing was sin-binned for a scrummage offence.

Some good running from the backs took play deep into Army territory, where they conceded a penalty.

From the subsequent lineout five metres out, a clean take and front peel put hooker Mike Skinner over in the corner.

Further Stags indiscipline at the breakdown gave the Army a chance to regain the lead and they finally did with another Francis penalty on the stroke of half-time.

The second half started in a similar fashion, but the Army failed to capitalise on the Stags' indiscretions.

In fact, it was the Stags that drew first blood with a Smart penalty following a lineout offence.

When given opportunities the home backs began to show pace and penetration.

But then the Army responded and were only thwarted by a last-ditch tackle.

However, the Stags then conceded a free-kick and Josh Seale crossed the line for the Army. Francis added the conversion to regain the lead at 13-8.

Minutes later he added a penalty and the Army appeared to be home and dry.

But the Stags had other ideas and set up the dramatic last 10 minutes.

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