Cheshunt 1st XV v Hitchin – 20th October 2017
First ever league win against the hedgehogs
Cheshunt record their second win of the season, in challenging conditions, with storm Brian dictating the style of play away to Hitchin.
Cheshunt chose to play with the wind and spent the first five minutes, largely in the Hitchin half, earning a brace of penalties for their efforts. The first is kicked to touch giving them a line-out 5 metres from the try line. Cheshunt won the ball and took it infield to the backs. The second infringement, for not rolling away just outside the Hitchin 22, gives, man-of-the-match, fly-half Johno Wicks the opportunity to slot a kick between the uprights, which he dutifully does and the green and whites are 3 -0 up.
The ball is shared between both teams for a further five minutes, but most of the action takes place in the Hitchin half, with Cheshunt using both forwards and backs to dictate where they want to play. The reds then give away another penalty, which because of backchat to the referee is marched a further 10 meters up field, giving wicks the opportunity to take another three points, 6 - 0 to Cheshunt.
Despite the blustery conditions the Cheshunt captain, Aydan Duligall, deals with both restarts excellently ensuring the visitors retain possession and momentum, although not everything goes their way as a few handling errors give Hitchin some respite.
Cheshunt’s first real attempt to score a try comes from a great lineout steal from lock Connor Pearce, with the ball being shifter through the backs to winger Sam Rule, with the Hitchin defence closing him down he puts a nicely weighted grubber kick through, but the Hitchin fullback wins the foot race to give them a 22 dropout.
Again Duligall collects the restart and puts scrumhalf, Rossco Chamberlain through, he in turn feeds the backs, Cheshunt are then awarded another penalty 20 metres in from touch between the Hitchin 10 and 22 metre lines. Again Wicks steps up and converts for another three points, putting them 9 - 0 after 20 minutes.
Another five minute spell sees possession switching between the teams, however Cheshunt still dominate territory as Brian ensures it is difficult for the home side to properly clear their lines.
On the 25 minute mark Hitchin lose a player, to a yellow card, for not releasing in the tackle on Wicks who had made a run from the 10 meter to be brought down close to the defenders line. He kicks to touch for the lineout however the wind causes the throw to miss its target and Hitchin win a scrum for not straight.
It is only a few minutes later that the reds give away another penalty, this time for not coming through the gate at a ruck, however the wind pushes the kick wide of the posts.
The score remains the same up to half time, Hitchin should feel relatively happy with that as they had played well, restricting Cheshunt to three penalty kicks, in very difficult conditions.
Hitchin try to build phases from the restart, but with only four minutes of the half the ball is turned over, Marvin Brown makes the break and is hauled down only two meters from the try line, where Duligall carries on the move to dive over for the first try of the game, 15 meters from touch, which was not converted as the wind dropped just as he was taking it, 14 – 0 to Cheshunt.
On the 50 minute mark Hitchin get their first points. Having moved the ball up to just inside the Cheshunt half a clever chip is collected by the defender, who is isolated and penalised for holding on in the tackle just outside the 22. With the wind now on his back the fly-half puts three on the board making it 3 – 14
After only another three minutes Hitchin build on this momentum, and from a “no arm” tackle, earn another three pointer off the boot making it 6 – 14 with 53 minutes on the clock.
Despite the conditions Cheshunt manage to move the ball back into the Hitchin half, a break from forwards Alex Brown and Joel Bailey puts them close to the Hitchin line where they are again penalised, this time for collapsing the maul, resulting in the second yellow card for the hosts.
From the penalty Cheshunt tapped and went for the try only to knock the ball on.
It was on the 60 minute mark that Hitchin found themselves back on their own 5 meter line with a defending scrum. The ball was shipped back into the in-goal for the clearing kick but Wicks managed to partially charge it down, the defenders then tried to bat the ball dead but Tom Claridge fell on the ball for Cheshunt’s second try. Wicks converted, a difficult kick, to make it 6 – 21.
Hitchin however were not ready to concede yet and again moved towards the visitor’s line forcing more errors and penalties from the green and whites. From one of these infringements Hitchin opt to tap and go, unfortunately for them, C’s defence holds firm.
After too many penalties, at 70 minutes, the referee decides he has had enough and sends Chamberlain to the bin for 10 minutes after he is deemed to be offside.
The hosts use this advantage to pepper the Cheshunt line, resulting in a series of offsides, and the referee goes straight under the posts for a penalty try and an automatic 7 points making the score 13 – 21.
The final 8 minutes see Cheshunt take control again and they finish the game in the Hitchin half.
The next game will be Cheshunt hosting the unbeaten league leaders Verulamium’s at Andrews Lane.