Enterprising play at Baldock Road
Letchworth GC 39 London Nigerians 14 Letchworth dominated this match in all areas after a shaky start. As ever, the unpredictable London Nigerians played their part in making it an entertaining spectacle with their cavalier approach. Using the elements we
Letchworth GC 39 London Nigerians 14
Letchworth dominated this match in all areas after a shaky start.
As ever, the unpredictable London Nigerians played their part in making it an entertaining spectacle with their cavalier approach.
Using the elements well, the visiting fly-half had a solid day at the office.
He was the architect of the first two scores, penalties, which went against Letchworth.
Probing behind the defence with long-range kicks to the corner, they were chased up by his pacy young colleagues to good effect.
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Skipper Jaggi Johal was not best pleased at getting stung by the same move twice and issued some fairly concise instructions.
His words were taken on board as the next kick was fielded by Dave Rae who set off upfield, looking for would-be tacklers to run into.
The fourth one managed to stop him, but aided and abetted by Ryan de la Harpe, he induced a penalty which was despatched to the corner.
Giles Cooke took the lineout ball and was muscled over the line by his pack for a try. Gavin Donald converted.
The visitors seemed to have no answer to the heavier Letchworth forwards.
Appearing disinterested in contesting lineouts or scrums, they defended elsewhere with passion, but no organisation.
This paid off for a while, with a Donald penalty being the only score, but it was moving the ball away from the forwards that proved the answer.
Johal broke from a scrum to interest the back row. Donald threw an accurate miss pass to Henry Robinson who fed Mike Stack out wide and he glided round the cover for a classy try.
Nigerians responded immediately to earn a penalty, closing the gap to six points at half time.
The second half was chaos, confusion and delightful interludes of intelligent back play.
The forward contest remained colourful, with the visitors either doing nothing, or pulling every trick in the book to disrupt play but failing to spot the referee's increasing frustration to give away a series of penalties.
From a lineout in the corner, Letchworth ran the ball. De la Harpe featured twice in the move, but it was Robinson's well-timed entry into the line that split the defence. The youngster crossed near the uprights for Donald to convert.
More chaos ensued, but Donald kept his cool and hoisting the ball caused confusion in the defence.
Despite three of them being in position to take the catch, it was Stack who timed his move to perfection.
They heard him, but did not see him as he appeared from the dazzling low winter sun to mug them and snatch the ball. A quick spin out of the tackle and he was away for his second try.
With Peter Sterienberg putting in some fine tackles, Letchworth enjoyed a period of complete dominance.
Nigerians had little ball to use, but showed how dangerous they could be with a 60m break out of defence. That attack resulted in them conceding a penalty for Donald to set up Robinson in attack.
He fielded a cross kick and set off on a mazy run, bewildering defenders and delighting the crowd. His diagonal line took him across to the opposite wing, where Ian Smith was looking for work.
He blasted on, taking out a number of opposition and presenting quick ball.
The pass back inside found Robinson again who finished the job he had started for his second score.
This inspired the Londoners to even more frantic activity - too frantic for the referee who produced two yellow cards in quick succession.
Fittingly, skipper Johal then got his name on the scoresheet, erupting from a maul and bruising over.
With the visitors down and out, Letchworth had the chance to finish strongly.
But the basics were forgotten - a lesson to be learned as scoring chances went begging with men unmarked outside.
The final glory went to Nigerians. Two men down and taking a beating in the pack, they suddenly found the energy to mount one last attack from deep.
In their own inimitable style, the ball was kept alive as players ran their legs to a standstill in support. As the try was scored, the pitch was littered with worn-out payers too tired to take another step.
Letchworth travel to Welwyn this Saturday, where the hosts will be looking to avenge the narrow loss they suffered before Christmas.