Cliffhanger at Baldock Road
Letchworth 18 Twickenham 18 Baldock Road hosted another fine game of open running rugby in near perfect conditions for February. Relegation threatened Twickenham will be disappointed that they did not do the double over the North Herts side as they were 1
Letchworth 18 Twickenham 18
Baldock Road hosted another fine game of open running rugby in near perfect conditions for February.
Relegation threatened Twickenham will be disappointed that they did not do the double over the North Herts side as they were 15 points ahead at one stage.
But the open running style of Letchworth did not desert them as they rallied and played some dazzling rugby in the minutes leading up to half time.
The spectre of dropping down a division seemed to haunt the visitors as they came out of the blocks in feisty and determined mood.
It was clear that no prisoners were to be taken from the start and by half-time Letchworth second row Tim Moynihan resembled the famous Chi-Chi the panda with two fine shiners - although the game was competitive rather than dirty.
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Using the wind, the visitors penetrated deep into the Letchworth 22 and from quick ball fly-half Phil Astbury, who was the bane of Letchworth earlier this season, sold a fine dummy. Despite a tap tackle, he crossed over for a try after only five minutes and full-back Bradford notched the conversion from close in.
Letchworth were determined to run from everywhere and it made for an entertaining game for the crowd.
Unfortunately their most penetrative back, Tim Gray, limped off with a strained hamstring after only 20 minutes.
Then Letchworth were caught napping as Rogers, the Twickenham scrum-half, broke blind and fed speedy winger Howden who went over in the corner.
Although Bradford missed a difficult kick, he stung Letchworth shortly after with a well-struck penalty from the 10m line which sailed over between the posts.
Letchworth refused to be rattled and continued to run the ball at every opportunity.
A three-phase move saw James Tirrell narrowly fail to score when Darren Messenger's pass was marginally behind him.
But the youngster, who had played a full game for Saracens A against Northampton in midweek, was soon on the scoresheet.
Andy Atkinson banged over a Letchworth penalty against a strong breeze and shortly after, Jaggi Johal broke blind only to be brought down five yards out.
The Letchworth forwards quickly recycled the ball and with Twickenham at full stretch, the ball passed through several pairs of hands as both Messenger from full-back and Tirrell from his blindside wing joined the line.
The latter took the former's pass superbly to score near the posts, while Atkinson made no mistake with the conversion.
Despite Twickenham gaining another penalty before half time, Letchworth were causing the visitors' severe grief in the set scrums and looked favourites to win after the break.
The beginning of the half saw some broken play with neither side dominating. Then Danny South was brought down just two yards short of the line and Letchworth pressure brought a penalty which Atkinson gratefully converted.
With Letchworth showing more control, a quick penalty on the 22 found Johal. The number eight cleverly passed the ball through his legs to replacement winger Steve Harper who had swapped wings with Tirrell.
The veteran winger tore down the wing and scored a fine try in the corner to tie the scores.
Faced with a hard kick from the corner, Atkinson failed narrowly to give Letchworth the lead.
In the last 10 minutes - mainly added time! - the game ebbed and flowed as both sides tried to take the spoils.
A dangerous Twickenham move was snuffed out by Harper with a brave dive on the ball and second row Phil Pearson made a memorable clearance with the boot.
Messenger was also stopped just short of the line after Tirrell's mazy run, so a draw was a fair result after a fine game.
The seconds, under the leadership of James Nye, had a good win over a strong Dunstablians side 41-29.
Try scorers included Giles Cooke, playing his first game for four months, who is eager to see a return to the first team before the season ends.
The third XV went down 19-7 to Potton in a spirited performance.