Close encounter sees Hitchin victorious
Royston U-18 5 Hitchin 22 ROYSTON went down against Hitchin in a close encounter at the Heath on Sunday. Playing into the wind in the first half, Royston had much of the possession and territory through excellent work from the forwards. A big Hitchin pa
Royston U-18 5 Hitchin 22 ROYSTON went down against Hitchin in a close encounter at the Heath on Sunday. Playing into the wind in the first half, Royston had much of the possession and territory through excellent work from the forwards. A big Hitchin pack made no impression on the Royston front row of Boreham, Dummett and Watkins. Frustration from the visitors led to their tight-head receiving a yellow card, but the home side could not capitalise on their numbers advantage to touch down. The visitors had only two forays into the home 22 in the half but scored both times, leaving Royston with a 12-0 deficit against the balance of play. With the wind in their favour the home side set out to reduce the arrears in the third quarter and fine continuity and phases led to Alan Cowley breaking through to make it 12-5. Royston kept up the pressure in the third quarter and Cottrell, Prenty and West worked hard to create openings but despite some good breaks and effective kicking could not breach the visitors' tight defence. In the fourth quarter, the lack of subs available to Royston counted, as tired legs led to two late scores for the visitors. Again, a good and committed performance from Royston but a lack of cutting edge is costing them in these close encounters. Royston U-16 7 Hitchin 25 THE large Hitchin pack took control from the start and their rolling mauls led to the first score. Stung into action, Royston camped in the Hitchin 22. Despite strong runs by Joe Hillman and Ben Milroy and getting the ball over the try line, Royston did not score because the referee decided that the ball had been held up. This disappointment deflated Royston as the opposition then dominated all phases of play and Hitchin scored four more tries. Half-time proved significant as Royston conceded no more points. Hitchin looked to counterattack but Royston's covering defence was magnificent. All the team put in some big hits with Darren Graver, Tim Smith and Adam Smith making it clear that Hitchin would not get past. The attacking play was the best Royston had ever achieved. The forwards supported each other closely and kept the ball alive. They rucked effectively and the pick and drive tactic meant the Hitchin pack could not dominate. As the penalty count went in their favour Royston ran the ball and battered the resolute Hitchin defence, with Hillman and Lewis Watson always hungry for the ball. Once the forwards had created the position Royston then moved the ball quickly and Matt Andrews and Dan Ritsema both went close. Frustratingly, Royston got the ball over the line twice more only to be called "held up". Finally, Ritsema's persistence was rewarded as he got over for Royston's deserved score and Andrews converted.