Welwyn's Josh Milton strikes for Herts youngsters to set up battle royale with Kent
PUBLISHED: 13:27 26 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:37 26 February 2019
Welwyn's Josh Milton got among the scorers at Hertfordshire U20 Stags ran out comfortable 43-20 winners at Eastern Counties in the Jason Leonard County Championship.
It leaves them one point behind Kent in the table with the two sides set to meet in a winner-takes-all battle at Cheshunt on March 17.
But while Kent had enjoyed a comfortable 76-7 win over the Eastern Counties, Hertfordshire had to work incredibly hard for their success at Ely.
At half-time the hosts were only two points behind their southerly neighbours at 12-10.
Unlike their victory over Sussex, the Stags’ pack did not have it all their own way and struggled during the first half to control their line-outs.
Eastern Counties took a third-minute lead with a penalty kicked by Cambridge’s Fin Creighton and the home side enjoyed more of the ball in the opening stages.
However, a yellow card gave Herts the advantage and they took it thanks to a try from George Carter, converted by his Nottingham Trent Uni team-mate Luke Bouchier.
Counties struck back with a converted try of their own, Lewis Jeffery the scorer, but Dan Hood’s five-point score sent Stags into the break ahead.
Milton struck almost immediately after the restart with a try out wide and although Creighton cancelled that out, Tommy Reilly of Oaklands College bagged a converted score to stretch the lead to 25-15.
The Stags now took control of the play and it was not long before a strong scrummage 20 metres out enabled replacement back row Josh Jordon, another from Oaklands, to pick up and score.
The forwards then engineered another try with Bishop’s Stortford’s Brad Etherington scoring under the posts and giving Bouchier an easy conversion.
And Hertfordshire could have cantered away to a much bigger victory had it not been for over-confident handling costing them a couple of scoring opportunities.
But the forwards were able to re-assert themselves and it led to a final score for the visitors, number eight Sean Ahearn-Smith of Leeds Beckett University scrambling over.
Bouchier landed his fourth conversion of the day after that although there was still time for a converted home score to close out the game.