Derby defeat

Letchworth 17 St Albans 23 THIS Herts league derby failed to sparkle with the greater need of the visitors eventually proving decisive. St Albans are on the edge of a relegation dogfight while Letchworth are secure and assured of finishing fourth or fifth

Letchworth 17 St Albans 23

THIS Herts league derby failed to sparkle with the greater need of the visitors eventually proving decisive.

St Albans are on the edge of a relegation dogfight while Letchworth are secure and assured of finishing fourth or fifth at worst. This gave the visitors a motivational edge that earned them two vital points.

Letchworth kicked off into a low sun and the face of a stiff breeze.

They controlled early possession, with Jimmy Tirrell continuing his run of form, but struggled to make any significant territorial gains.

Saints kicked from hand well and took first blood with a try in the corner.

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Letchworth hit back after good work by Jaggi Johal sucked the defence in.

Steve Harpur moved the ball wide with quick hands to Graeme Peters for the rejuvenated winger to level matters.

Tim Moynihan was then forced off with a back injury to add to the struggling front five's problems.

Weak tackling allowed Saints' feisty hooker to bullock through the midfield. He scored under the posts for an easy conversion and the visitors pressed hard to make best use of the elements.

Letchworth struggled to control the ball but Ian Smith worked hard to create the best chances. Two further penalties extended the lead for Saints and they looked well set as half time neared.

Tirrell had different ideas however. From 40 yards out he mesmerised the defenders, dancing through no less than eight would-be tacklers to light up the afternoon with a brilliant individual score.

This narrowed the gap to eight points and there appeared to be all to play for.

Within five minutes of the restart, Dan South ripped the visitors apart with a trademark run. No dancing for him as he crashed through under the posts for Darren Messenger to step up and convert.

Saints upped the ante, forcing the Letchworth skipper Ian Parkhouse into desperate defence. For his efforts, he was given a yellow card and 10 minutes in the sin bin.

With Letchworth a man down, the visitors drove a series of mauls to suck the defence in. With good hands, they eventually used the space outside for the full-back to come into the line and score.

Johal was now in the wars, eventually joining Moynihan on the injured list.

With the Letchworth pack now neutered, Saints sought to take advantage by bringing on a new prop. His first touch earned him a yellow card, now disturbing their rhythm.

Letchworth huffed and puffed but with too many enforced changes, were playing without cohesion.

The referee gave St Albans the greatest cause for concern, playing nine minutes of injury time.

Their relief at the final whistle was obvious and in reality, it would have been a travesty had they been denied.

Letchworth were left with the consolation of the after-match beach party to drown their sorrows!