Hogs stumble in race for title
AFTER a loss at the Old Streetonians last week, the Hitchin young guns came to the King George V playing fields with revenge in their hearts, and a secure win in their minds. The race for the title had only six points between the two contenders and a win against Old Streetonians would tighten the gap and put the pressure on, but from the start the Old Street’s boys showed they were not going to be easy to defeat.
The first half was not one to remember. At moments it was like watching a game of ping pong but when Hitchin got the ball down in the pack they showed great determination and gained a lot of ground. The effects of the sleet were highlighted with scrappy passes and many knock ons. The first try came from Old Streetonians leading from an extravagant kick from Hitchin straight down the throats of the opposition backline. The opposition centres attacked Hitchin at pace and proved too much for the weak tackles being made by Hitchin. Olds Street’s 13 finished off the try and a missed conversion gave Old Street’s the early lead of 5-0. The frozen spectators thought it was going to be a score line similar to last week after this early try but good pressure from the forwards and driving from Sean McGinity put the Old Streetonians on the back foot in their own 22. The Hitchin backs found it hard to find gaps in the strong Old Street’s defence, and the kicking game was not proving too successful. The Hitchin pack had definitely been practicing their line outs as they turned one deep in the oppositions half, another great shove from the forwards was, yet again not backed up by the Hitchin backs. A frustrating first half ended with the last play being an ambitious penalty kick from the touch line on the 22, Jack Peachey once again showed the Old Streetonians what he can do with a right boot. The two teams went into the second half with a score of Hitchin 3, Old Streetonians 5.
As the sky lightened up so did Hitchin’s play in the backs, with Chris Betts and James Larman making some excellent hits to put Old Street’s in their place. Another dominating maul from the Hitchin pack backed up by great movement in the backs, showed what damage Hitchin can do when they pass well, and get used to a slippery ball, when they, once again, put Old Streetonians on their back foot. The Old Street’s couldn’t deal with the mighty pressure from the pack and gave away a silly penalty 35 metres directly in front of the posts. The kick was no test for our very own Peachey who slotted the ball through taking Hitchin into, a much deserved, lead of 1 point. Temperatures on the pitch were rising and the heat between the teams was enough to warm up the frost bitten fingers of the Hitchin fans. Old Street’s took advantage of more sloppy tackles from the Hitchin centres which resulted in Hitchin being put on the back foot, for one of the first times in the half. The Hitchin pack showed great defence and ambition around the break down, not allowing any gain in yards for the Old Street’s boys. The young guns, however, showed they needed to keep their heads cool as they gave away a needless penalty in front of the posts which was executed by Old Street’s. You wouldn’t want to be watching France vs Ireland in the club house during the last 20 minutes, as the game took a lively turn and the tension really started to increase, resulting in more scraps in midfield. Hitchin needed to focus their energy on gaining yards rather than getting frustrated; they showed a great amount of skill by utilising Old Street’s mistakes. That they did when another gloriously turned over lineout by Nick Panton saw Benucci make an astounding break down the left flank, a skilful offload to Panton saw him secure a well deserved try putting Hitchin into the lead with a score of Hitchin 11, Old Street’s 8. After this the battling youngsters fought on to shake of any threat that Old Street’s brought. Confidence was with the Hitchin lads as we entered the last 10 minutes of play. A late Old Street’s surge battered against an exhausted Hitchin pack and a strong drive resulted in a Old Street’s forward try, easily converted putting Old Street’s in the lead by 4 points. Fresh legs from Old Streetonians penetrated weak Hitchin legs, but Hitchin courageously pushed on creating immense pressure on the Old Streetonians back foot. This did not result in anything, however and Old Streetonians kicked the ball out to secure their second defeat over Hitchin.
The Hitchin young guns had put in a great performance and showed a real improvement after last weeks result but they were just stopped short by a powerful Old Streetonians 15.
Picture: Courtesy of David Betts
Match Report: Courtesy of Richard Holmes
Sean McGinnity, Marcus Moore, Richard Stidolph, Nick Panton, Philip Hobbs, Joe Benucci, James Drury, Joseph Lockyer, Ed Taylor, Jack Peachey, James Larman, Rob Willoughby, Vincent Kevans, Chris Betts, Carwyn Morgan
Karl Brooks, Rob Willis, Samuel Underwood
Nick Panton (1) P:
Jack Peachey (2)