Datchworth are going up

Hitchin 10 Datchworth 23 Datchworth secured their well-earned promotion to the dizzy heights of London Three North West with a hard-fought win at local rivals Hitchin. Their head coach Mark Pittaccio waxed lyrical following their third promotion in four s

Hitchin 10 Datchworth 23

Datchworth secured their well-earned promotion to the dizzy heights of London Three North West with a hard-fought win at local rivals Hitchin.

Their head coach Mark Pittaccio waxed lyrical following their third promotion in four seasons.

Pittaccio said: "I am really proud of all the players.

"Throughout this season everyone has been in the first team because they really want to be there and that has generated a fantastic team spirit.

"Our physio Carol Booth has been outstanding and our treasurer Mike Styles has found the funds to pay for transport to vital away games which have helped to secure promotion points.

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"With the seconds winning their league, the thirds and fourths competing well and a thriving youth and mini section this is a fantastic club to be a part of.

"A third promotion in four seasons is just reward for all the effort and commitment, all of which is given for free."

Saturday's result was soured a bit by an incident that happened in the opening minutes of the game.

Full-back Alun Thomas required surgery after the match to remove his ruptured spleen which was the result of a late and dangerous shoulder charge after Thomas had cleared the ball.

A penalty was awarded for the challenge but no card.

Hitchin, playing with the wind, started strongly and controlled possession and territory through their half-backs.

This was helped by the indiscipline of Datchworth who conceded a string of penalties from which the home side added three points from the boot of full-back Paul Howard to open the scoring.

Datchworth's indiscipline continued and they were reduced to 14 men midway through the half.

Hitchin made the extra man count and exploited space in the Datchworth midfield for Adam Shaw to cross beneath the posts for the score, which was converted by Howard.

The villagers went into half time 10 points adrift but with the strong wind in their favour in the second half the points were still there for the taking.

In a reversal of the first half, Datchworth controlled the second 40 minutes.

Fly-half Andrew Tarsey controlled territory with his boot and the Datchworth pack began to recycle quick ball and work the phases.

It was not long before centre Richie Howells slotted a penalty to bring the visitors within a score.

The villagers were soon back in Hitchin territory as the wind was making it impossible for the home side's back three to get any yardage on their clearing kicks.

Danny Sheridan threw into the lineout and clean ball off the top was sent wide. Winger Henry Mountain took the ball into contact to set up the ruck.

The ball went back in field and was carried up the middle by the forwards. The ball was spread left and superior numbers told as James Watt went over in the corner for his third score in three games.

Howells added the two points from the touchline to bring the scores level.

Datchworth now had the impetus and soon went in the lead through the boot of Howells who looked like he could not miss from anywhere in the opposition half.

A second try was added to put the win safe. The Datchworth forwards turned the ball over and it was sent out to Tarsey who cut through the defence and showed great strength to cross for the converted score.

Howells added a further three points before the final whistle.

Hitchin player-coach Paddy McCullagh said: "Congratulations to Mark and the Datchworth players; they've had a solid season and deserve their promotion. We also wish Alun Thomas a speedy recovery.

"Our boys put up a spirited effort and looked like we could have created an upset but to finish with only 13 on the field made it difficult.

"We've had a tough season with injuries and non-availability has taken its toll but will finish mid-table. We'll look to push on next season and aim for promotion.