A switch of venue thanks to Storm Doris took Hitchin 2nd XV to St Albans to take on Hatfield. Fine weather and a half decent pitch provided the conditions for quick running rugby, which suited the Hatfield back three perfectly. Hitchin struck first within the first 10 minutes through Paddy Simpkin, who carved up the middle of the field to scurry over the line, with the conversion following from Adam Naylor's boot. Some pressure then came from Hatfield, who attacked Hitchin's line like a battering ram but couldn't find a way through some fierce tackles, with the defence led well by Simon Banner and stalwart Gary Wearing, with some great cover tackles by Scott Perrin. A 22 drop out landed in the hands of the Hatfield full back, who then skipped his way through to pull Hatfield back in the game. Naylor then landed a penalty after some good attacking play by Hitchin to make it 10-7. Shortly after, Naylor couldn't find touch from a penalty and the Hatfield back three sprung into life once again, punishing Hitchin with another try to put them 14-10 up.
Paul Marvell entered the field after a mad dash from the airport, which moved James Ditchburn back to his favoured hooking role. With the scrum steadied and from some quick ball, Jake Ware battered his way through and offloaded to centre partner Simpkin to put Hitchin in the lead, furthered by Naylor's boot. 14-17 Hitchin led with half time approaching. A penalty from a deliberate knock on levelled the game at the break, 17-17 the score.
In the interval, Hitchin got their heads together and realised that without the ball, the Hatfield back three couldn't score, and that set the game plan for the majority of the second half. Joff Lord took Hitchin into the lead after some good pressure on the Hatfield line, again converted by Naylor to make the score 17-24 in Hitchin's favour.
Hatfield though, didn't lie down and kept working hard, and again crossed the Hitchin line to pull themselves back into the game. With the try converted, the game sat at 24-24 with 20 minutes left on the clock.
A spell camped in Hatfield's 22, with Hitchin skipper James Akrill deciding to either run the ball in or take the scrum at the numerous penalties proved the right decision as Adam Baird bulldozed his way over the line with 10 minutes left to put Hitchin's noses in front. Naylor couldn't convert which set up a tense finale to an already tense game.
Hitchin kept their heads, and played very sensible rugby in the closing stages to ensure the journey home was a good one. Both sides knew they were in a match, and this was a great example of amateur rugby at this level.
MOM: Adam Baird
Tries: Paddy Simpkin x2, Joff Lord, Adam Baird
C: Naylor x3
James Akrill, Adam Cantwell, Ricky Allen, Gary Wearing, Joff Lord, Simon Banner, Karl Brooks, Adam Baird, Paul James Marvell, Adam Naylor, Richard Chennells, Patrick Simpkin, Jake Ware, Dave Wright, Scott PerrinSubs
James DitchburnScores T:
Patrick Simpkin (2), Joff Lord (1), Adam Baird (1) C:
Adam Naylor (3) P:
Adam Naylor (1) The league: Herts Mddx Merit Table