Improved second half display not enough
HAC 60 Royston 13 ROYSTON travelled to HAC shorn of their best young backs and back row through holiday and injury, with veterans Paul Dacey and Ronnie Barker in the back line and their quinquagenarian chairman among the substitutes. Not surprisingly, the
HAC 60 Royston 13
ROYSTON travelled to HAC shorn of their best young backs and back row through holiday and injury, with veterans Paul Dacey and Ronnie Barker in the back line and their quinquagenarian Chairman among the substitutes.
Not surprisingly, the youthful and pacy HAC backs put them to the sword in the first half, committing players to the tackle, creating overlaps and scoring at will.
A try by the right wing within the first minute was the first of eight unanswered scores, with the only brief chinks of light coming from a couple of good runs down the right wing by Chris Ball, on the left from Steve Bass and some good sniping round the fringes from scrum-half James Martin.
Although the forwards had the better of the lighter HAC pack, carelessness conceded a couple of scrums against the head and their attempts to drive up the centre only resulted in turnover ball which HAC lapped up and turned into try-scoring opportunities.
With his team 46-0 down at half-time and staring down the barrel of a 100-point defeat, captain Jamie Green rallied his team with an inspiring talk that galvanised the forwards.
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Bringing on mobile prop Will Sparks helped and the pack upped their game 20 per cent to take the battle to the opposition.
With number eight Scott Easy, prop Steve Patmore and lock Billy Richardson leading the way they smashed the HAC forwards out of their complacency and camped in the opposition half.
The only reward after 20 minutes, though, was a well-taken penalty by man-of-the-match Jason Deards who was now orchestrating the backs well and linking with flanker Will Phillips.
Two quick replacements with hooker Steve Mills being replaced by Danny Fox, who soon had to go off with a nasty gash to his head, saw Jamie Johnson move into the centre for his first league appearance in 12 years.
Jason Turkington went to hooker, Chris Ball went into the back row and Steve Clay onto the wing.
Within five minutes Deards had executed a perfect dummy scissors with his centres and knifed his way through the HAC defence to score under the posts and convert himself.
Five minutes later after more concerted pressure from Royston, Johnson switched the play with a long pass back to Deards in the pocket to drill over a Wilkinson-esque drop goal.
The pace of the game and the supreme efforts of the second half, combined with two weeks of inactivity because of the snow, had sapped Royston's energy and resulted in HAC scoring two late converted tries at the end of the half to top up their first half scoring spree.
Nevertheless Royston will take heart from their second-half performance and look forward to the visit of league leaders Hendon to the Heath on Saturday.