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1st XV 24 v 51 Grasshoppers RFC - Away League on 9 Dec 2017

Published on Monday, 11 December 2017

Hitchin travelled to Osterley in West London to face table toppers Grasshoppers, continuing the search for their second win of the season.


It was clear from the outset that the hosts planned to attack from all angles, using their wide pitch to their advantage. Despite two defiant last ditch tackles from full back Elliot Gibson, Grasshoppers scored out wide to take a 5 point lead.

Hitchin pinned their visitors in their own half from the kick off, frequently turning over possession.  Shortly after winger Jack Powell nearly went over in the corner, Rhys Gregory quickly distributed to Ben Wiggins, who danced through the defence to touch down under the posts, unconverted to tie the game at 5 apiece.

 A confident Grasshoppers soon unpicked the defence to take a 12-5 lead. An increasingly dominant Hitchin pack took full advantage of a 5 metre scrum to drive their hosts over the line, number 8 Ryan Arbon touching down for an unconverted try.  After 20 minutes the free-flowing Grasshoppers started to take a grip of the game, executing sophisticated attacking lines to score three further tries, taking a 27-10 half time lead. 


Early encounters in the second half took place in Hitchin territory, before a serious injury to centre Gary Ayres, returning from Rio for his first Hitchin game in 10 months, forced play to another pitch.


Despite driving the resultant scrum 10 yards up the pitch, Hitchin did not adapt well to the change in scenery.  First the home side carried out a textbook blindside overlap off the back of a scrum.  A simple passing move was scored by the winger in the corner, then a centre seized upon loose Hitchin play to touch down under the posts.  With the score line stretching to 44-10, Hitchin embarked on their best spell of the game, continually forcing the opposition into errors in their own half.  Wiggins expertly kicked a penalty to touch from a tricky angle, deep into Grasshoppers territory.  England Deaf International Josh Page delivered the ball to a soaring Nick Panton, and a well formed maul walked the ball over the whitewash, James Akrill claiming the score. Hitchin continued to press, seeking a fourth try to earn a bonus point from their travels. 

Now totally dominant in the scrum, Hitchin were awarded a penalty 5 metres from the line.  After being held up over the line, Hitchin once again got the shove on, Ryan Arbon scoring again for what must be the easiest brace of his career.

 Both sides made changes as the game entered its final 10 minutes, including tighthead prop James Bolter’s opposite number who, physically wrecked from his encounter with the Club Captain, was substituted on grounds of safety by the Referee.  Grasshoppers capitalised on another midfield mistake from Hitchin to surge down the pitch for the final score. 


The Hedgehogs make the short trip to Stevenage to play their final game of 2017 on Saturday 16th December.

Team James Bolter, Thomas Tidey, James Akrill, Samuel Underwood, Nick Panton, Max Stallard, Joshua Page, Ryan Arbon, Rhys Gregory, Ben Wiggins, Jack Powell, Dale Baines, Gary Ayres, Alistair Southward, Elliot Gibson

Subs Harry Elleston, Mark Tidey, Adam Shaw

Scores T: Ryan Arbon (2), Ben Wiggins (1), James Akrill (1) C: Ben Wiggins (2)

London North West 3 The league: London North West 3



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Hitchin Rugby Limited, King George V Playing Fields, Old Hale Way, Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1XL England, Charity No. 1159772
enquiries@hitchinrugby.com T: +44 (0)1462 432679