Hitchin ready for long-awaited league campaign after solid pre-season
- Credit: HITCHIN RFC
Hitchin are more than ready for the long-awaited return of competitive rugby.
They are on the road at Tabard on day one of the new London Division Three North West campaign, the first in more than 18 months, and they warmed up for it with pre-season victories over Biggleswade and Ampthill Jets.
The first was by 26-5 against Biggleswade while the Ampthill victory came in a high-scoring 33-26 success.
Both teams started strongly, Ampthill opening the scoring but the Hedgehogs responding with 18-year-old prop Leo Shinn touching down at the back of a rolling maul.
Ampthill retook the lead before a penalty try for collapsing another maul gave Hitchin parity again.
However, by half-time Ampthill led 19-12 and the visitors continued to pin Hitchin back in the early stages of the second half.
But that was when the improved Hitchin defence stepped up their game and began to force errors and from one turnover, centres Ian Crompton and Favour Maduka worked space for winger Will Rooney, who expertly finished from halfway.
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As Ampthill looked to respond, a loose pass was collected and fed to full-back Will Evans who hit a gap at full speed.
Flanker Fred Rooney provided the support and scored the try to give Hitchin the lead for the first time.
Poor discipline continued to thwart the visitors and Hitchin fly-half Ben Wiggins continued to pin them into the corner with penalty kicks to touch.
The rolling maul brought another five points, Sam Thompson the scorer this time, but Ampthill were not finished and bagged another try.
However, there was to be no dramatic finish as Hitchin saw out the remaining time.
The seconds turned a narrow half-time lead into a resounding 54-24 victory at Stevenage.
Arron Aatkar got two while there was one each for Rhys Gregory, Ali Southward, Sam Thompson, James Hunt, Harry Wilders and Ross Howard while George Vivian converted seven of them.
The thirds, led by new captain Kam Nandra, saw Letchworth storm back from a 24-7 deficit to win 36-31. Marcus Moore led Hitchin's scorers with three and Matt Hawtin and Xander Szanto got the others. Dale Baines kicked three conversions.
Hitchin Ladies have enjoyed two friendly wins, beating Fullerians 26-0 and then Royston 17-7.
They start their season on September 26.