Hedgehogs are Full of cup joy
Hitchin 18 Fullerians 15 (aet) Hitchin edged out league rivals Fullerians in the last eight of the Herts Presidents Trophy. The Hedgehogs will now travel to Hemel Hempstead in the semi-finals on Sunday, March 25. It was Hitchin s second game of the weeke
Hitchin 18 Fullerians 15 (aet)
Hitchin edged out league rivals Fullerians in the last eight of the Herts Presidents' Trophy.
The Hedgehogs will now travel to Hemel Hempstead in the semi-finals on Sunday, March 25.
It was Hitchin's second game of the weekend after Saturday's league defeat at Barnet (see below).
Due to injuries, Hitchin were forced to inject some youth into the side with colts Peter Frisch making his debut at number eight and Stewart Merrit bolstering the bench.
The first half saw both teams make the most of good conditions to produce fantastic end-to-end rugby.
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Mark Jennings made great inroads into the Fullerians back line, and front row players Joff Lord and Ben Alsop ploughed into the fringes of the breakdown.
Hitchin still found themselves trailing by five points at half time due to Fullerians making the most of an overlap to put their second row over out wide.
After the break, winger Chris Martin collected a spilled ball to run half the pitch and score under the posts although the conversion was missed.
Fullerians replied with some pressure of their own. After a 22 drop out by Hitchin, Fullerians recovered the ball to kick across field to allow their winger to win a foot race to score in the corner.
Hitchin's man of the match Frisch and his fellow members of the pack kept play tight and rumbled up the pitch to camp in the Fullerians 22.
After constant pressure and numerous infringements, Fullerians lost a player to the sin bin and Hitchin capitalised with second row Aaron Johnson thundering over the line to bring the scores level.
Hitchin failed to convert which meant extra time - the last thing Hitchin needed after completing a total of 160 minutes of rugby for the weekend.
A successful penalty from Lee Sheldrake broke the deadlock before the Fullerians winger made the most of a lucky bounce to score under the posts. Hitchin determinedly charged down the conversion to leave them two points behind.
Hitchin once again camped in the Fullerians 22 and in the last minute after continuous pressure, they quickly moved the ball wide to put winger James Larman in the corner.
* It followed Saturday's 29-15 reverse at Barnet in a rearranged league fixture.
In muddy conditions, both sides started the game with the intention of playing attacking flowing football.
The first side to register a score was Hitchin with a fine penalty by fly-half Dan Squire.
This was soon responded to by Barnet with their kicker scoring a penalty.
Hitchin began to get on top with some superb driving mauls and quick rucking with flanker Graham King in outstanding form rampaging all over the field.
This period brought success when Squire made a quick break and with an audacious dummy sent the whole of the home defence the wrong way to score a try under the posts which he also converted.
This stung the home side who forced Hitchin into making errors and from one such mistake, the Barnet winger broke the last line of defence to score a converted try.
Unfortunately Barnet scored two tries after the break to take a 22-8 lead.
The North Herts side did not give up and constantly pressurised the Barnet defence. One such team effort created the try of the match when speedy winger Martin scorched down the touchline and under the posts for a try converted by Squire.
This was a case of too little, too late, but the team never slackened and rampaging runs by Dale Baines, Ben Alsop and Joe Benucci put pressure on the home side's defence.
But the game ended with the Barnet backs making use of turnover ball to run in a converted try.
The home side's supporters remarked afterwards that Hitchin do not deserve to be relegated but with a young side maturing with every match, the future for the Hedgehogs looks promising.