Letch has an early scare for Hendon
Hendon 14 Royston 8 FRESH from their success against Ashmoleans last weekend, Royston travelled into North London to take on another of the league's high-fliers. With a virtually unchanged line-up confidence was high before kick off. With only a couple o
Hendon 14 Royston 8 FRESH from their success against Ashmoleans last weekend, Royston travelled into North London to take on another of the league's high-fliers. With a virtually unchanged line-up confidence was high before kick off. With only a couple of minutes gone Royston saw Chris Wallis emerge from the breakdown to make a burst of 30 yards deep into the Hendon 22. Hendon's line was sufficiently stretched that a penalty was forthcoming for the visitors, and Colin Letch continued his good form with the boot to slide over the three points. Hendon's restart was not collected cleanly by Royston which allowed the territorial advantage to fall to the hosts, who swiftly found a gap in the Royston line to edge themselves ahead on the scoreboard. A bit of good fortune aided Hendon when the conversion attempt bounced favourably off the post to add the extra two points. With Dicky Leighton at scrum half having to leave the field with a possible broken nose, Royston had to reshuffle, introducing back row forward Jack Hillman into the centre, and moving Robert Turner in at number nine. Few opportunities came in the remainder of the first half, with the only really notable chance coming from a Steve Bass burst down the left, allowing the ball to be moved inside to Hillman. Sound defensive work by Hendon snuffed out the drive, finally aided by the referee's whistle for half-time. Throughout the match the forwards were involved heavily with the high frequency of scrummages and line-outs. Ultimately neither team dominated this battle, with lots of turnover ball being the result. This allowed Hendon to seize the initiative midway through the second period, when Tommy Middleton at flanker split the Royston midfield to touch down beneath the posts. Royston's heads did not drop as they took the game back to Hendon bringing on fresh legs at second row in the form of David Rice. With the referee finally showing yellow cards to the Hendon hooker for being continually offside, and Middleton for other infringements at the breakdown, the visitors were able to gain a territorial advantage for the last 20 minutes. Solid mauling gave Steven Patmore a chance to crash over, but to no avail as Hendon were judged to have held the ball up. Very soon after, a second chance fell the way of Patmore, who was able to shrug off two defenders and ground the ball for the five points. Letch was unfortunate with the kick as it fell just short of the uprights. With the six-point margin Royston went in search of the required converted try with several bursts into the hosts' 22. With Steve Bass and Scott Easy coming close it looked like it might be possible, but with time running down, Hendon remained resolute and held out until the final whistle. Royston U-16 10 Newmarket 41 BRIGHT sunshine removed the early frost and allowed a fast, flowing game of rugby as both sides ran the ball with spirit. In a game of contrasting halves, Newmarket controlled the first and scored enough tries to given them a 31-point cushion by half-time. The away team's ability to recycle the ball quickly allowed them to attack in numbers. Despite Adam Smith, Lewis Thomas and Will Cottrell all making significant tackles, Royston ran out of bodies, and winger Tim Smith had to try to defend an overlap too many times. Good kicking by Cottrell, Sam Morris' line-out catching, and strong running from Ben Milroy and Chris Mills were among the first half highlights for Royston. After some substitutions at the break, including the welcome return of Lewis Watson, Royston managed to compete at the breakdown more effectively. This led to good possession, and with Smith distributing the ball very well at scrum half, Royston attacked repeatedly, with Matt Andrews going close on several occasions. Eventually, after a clever blind-side break by Martin Goddard, Will Phillips collected the loose ball and plunged over to score. Royston continued to attack strongly only to concede a breakaway try. This spurred on the home team, and their desire to reduce the arrears was evident as they attacked with determination. Sustained Royston pressure committed too many Newmarket players, allowing Mark Prenty to power past the final defenders to score the last points of the game.