3XV win tight game
By Doug Smith
Comeback required with a last minute try securing victory
Match Report : Yogi
Not since the Battle of Barnet in 1471, when Edward defeated Richard ‘The Kingmaker’ Neville has Hertfordshire seen a battle such as this which took place on the 20th October. Hitchin itself is more famous for its wool trade and being the birthplace of Girton College (formally the College for Women at Benslow House in Hitchin) before Girton College was moved to Cambridge, than epic Alamo type rear actions!
Before the game there was some concern that all 4 sides at Hitchin that day were dressed in Maroon! This seemed to distract most of the players and the warm up was not as crisp as one might expect with the wealth of talent on show. In today’s team there were roughly a third of Dr Kinsey’s team from his tenure as 1XV captain a decade ago.
The game kicked off in glorious sunshine and Amersham gave a good showing with solid yards from the front 5 and more attractive running from our mobile number 8 Louis and his back row partners in destruction LC12 (he may have been playing 7 but he is always LC12 to me #firstinlastout ) and Jack. The blue wall of Hitchin was creaking, but held firm, and it was clear from the scoreless first quarter that these were 2 evenly matched teams. The influence of the Hitchin tall second row grew as the half continued and after some solid runs from him and a couple of big hits, Hitchin were pushing Chiltern back into their own half. One such Hitchin attack lead to a Chiltern turnover just inside the Chiltern 22 and in the resulting ruck said influential second row received a bad facial injury (we hope he is ok). Hitchin having started with no subs had no one to bring on, so it was 14 v 15. Chiltern had their tails up and went straight up the other end, a mazy run from LC12 following good work from Fenton at 10 led to Sam Griffiths going over in the corner (LC12 was sure he could have finished but did the team thing!), first blood to Amersham! If Amersham thought it would be one way traffic from now on they were very wrong, the try seemed to galvanise the Hitchin team and they stormed back into the game, their number 8 and Hooker leading from the front and carrying the attack right into the heart of Chiltern’s defence, from such a drive the ball was passed out quickly and some solid handling and decent lines of running saw Hitchin’s centre force his way through and touch down for a well worked try .....Game On! Hitchin continued to press hard up until half time and it was clear that the numerical advantage wasn’t as big an advantage as Amersham had hoped for. Chiltern did manage to get across the whitewash before the half was out but due to a forward pass which missed by the ref but admitted to by Chiltern, the score was chalked off.
The second half kicked off and Hitchin lost another player as their winger went down with what sounded like a very bad knee injury, only to rise like Lazarus seconds later (he was made to drink for that later!) Hitchin were still playing like men possessed and Chiltern were in disarray continuing with the tactic of 1 up runners trying to beat Hitchin individually and most of the time coming up short. Hitchin scored again despite being down to 12 men and were extending their lead.
Some choice words from captain Doug under the posts finally seemed to sink in and from the kick off Chiltern looked focussed on the task ahead, by this stage Hitchin had dragged 2 players out of the bar and found them some boots and were back up to 14 players. Play moved swiftly into the Hitchin half and good hands down the short side saw LC12 go over for a well work try for Amersham, rather than igniting the fire for a Chiltern resurgence this seemed galvanise Hitchin and the drove deep into the Chiltern half, more Chiltern indiscipline led to a line out on the 22 and a great piece of work from the Hitchin scrumhalf with a little chip over the line out lead to a try to Hitchin and got them more than 2 scores ahead with time running out. Time for Amersham to hitch up their britches and go in for the kill! Good hands with backs and forwards combining led to a Dan Kinsey try out wide, then moments later an almost carbon copy move lead to another score for Kinsey and the scores were tied at 22 all.
With time running out victory was secured with a Louis Cottell try from a storming run and long reach, the conversion was good and it finished Hitchin 22 Amersham and Chiltern 29. Like General Custer at little Big Horn, Hitchin were not disgraced in defeat and showed the true spirit of the game not giving up until the final whistle.
This game will live long in the authors memory (although I hope memory of my 2 kicks fade!) - Thank you Hitchin for a great game and thank you the 3XV for getting there in the end.