Hitchin were the unexpected opposition for our Cup Final with Camelot unable to field a team. So our boys were given the opportunity to gain revenge on a dismal showing in the league against the Hedgehogs.
Glenn’s message to the team was for intensity from minute one and boy did the team deliver. Straight from the kick off we gained ground and possession but were deemed offside so Hitchin could relieve the pressure (a pattern that repeated itself soooooo many times).
First blood was to go to OAs though with the forwards setting up Ewan who sprinted through and around Hitchin’s defensive line to make it 5 – 0. Gus with a tricky conversion made it 7 – 0.
Wave after wave of OAs pressure was repeatedly stifled by offside penalties, but when we did manage to get into the Hitchin 22 a penalty was gained our way. (last year we won the final by a converted penalty three points) Gus stepped up to try for the three points but the kick was narrowly missed. Nerves were now jangling in the OAs support….. was this a sign…..
Of course it was, it was a sign that we didn’t need a penalty kick to secure a lead. Our next phase of attack saw James F charge through for a try that started from the right side of the pitch and through fluid running and passing saw the try scored in the far left corner. Great rugby! 12-0 missed conversion.
It is worth mentioning that whenever Hitchin gained possession it was not for long. Despite Hitchin’s big powerful runners and quick offloading game our defensive game was as strong if not stronger than our offensive game meaning Hitchin were struggling to gain any real territory in dangerous areas.
In particular one last ditch tackle and immediate jackal from Josh on the occasion the big centre appeared destined to break clear was straight out of the text book. Massive tackles were flying in, huge rucks creating quick ball for Barry and the backs, excellent mauls and powerful scrums. All in all a good half of rugby and the hoodoos of the league game were well and truly put to bed.
The second half was a similar passage of play as the first. We were guilty of not wising up to a strict referee with too many penalties against us and we were also guilty of losing possession when we were close to scoring. Three or more tries went begging as the boys saw the line and rather than take the contact and recycle the ball would try an impossible pass that went astray. We also lost possession by leaving attacking players isolated so Hitchin were able to gain a penalty or easy turn over.
But I am being overly critical. With the forwards creating a strong platform some of the lines being run by the backs running onto the ball with pace were regularly breaking the game line with Ollie J particularly impressive in this respect. The second half saw another excellent move from the backs with Ewan scoring his second try, not bad given he had only jetted home from a half-term holiday in the Canaries during the early hours. 17 – 0 Gus converted 19 – 0.
It also saw Alex with a fantastic forward’s try, excellent rucking and driving saw him cap off an super performance 24 – 0 Missed conversion.
Massive congratulations to all of the boys, they all put in a performance worthy of a Cup Final and they should all be very proud.
Thanks also to Glenn and Kev who have coached and shaped a great team technically but also a fantastic team spirit. Glenn and Kev have always had faith in the ability of the squad, probably more so than the boys themselves but have been fully justified after such a strong showing. The bar has now been set and expectation levels will rise accordingly!
Back to back County Plate winners – Not too shabby.