Letchworth lose in cup quarter-finals

Old Albanians 22 Letchworth GC 14 Letchworth exited the Herts Presidents Cup and there were no complaints about the end result, although the final margin perhaps flattered Albanians. There was much to take heart from for Letchworth in defeat after early

Old Albanians 22 Letchworth GC 14

Letchworth exited the Herts Presidents' Cup and there were no complaints about the end result, although the final margin perhaps flattered Albanians.

There was much to take heart from for Letchworth in defeat after early jitters gave the home side an early lead with a penalty.

Letchworth fired back with a series of impressive attacks through their back line. Henry Robinson sliced through, but just missed the supporting Peter Sterienberg who would have been in.

Ryan de la Harpe unlocked the midfield to find Mike Stack out wide. He drew the defence, but again the final pass was agonisingly astray.

Both sides were playing with adventure just beyond their ability, as attack after attack floundered on the wreckage of a crucial knock on.

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Both scrums were able to disrupt opposition ball, with the looseheads seeming dominant. However sympathetic refereeing prevented the match getting stuck in a series of set pieces.

Albanians attacked with purpose, asking questions of Letchworth defensively. The answers were provided.

With Sterienberg prominent as the go forward man, Letchworth worked back up field.

Gavin Donald cross kicked for Robinson to beat the opposition winger and race for the line. The cover looked good, but the youngster has deceptive strength. He scored bravely in the corner, with tacklers trying to force him to touch.

Letchworth hit a purple patch, realising they had the tools to unlock Albanians' defence.

The home side, captained by former England squad man Greg Botterman, needed to stem the tide. Their forwards did enough to gain crucial turnovers and slowly take the tempo down.

Agonisingly close to scores, Letchworth became over eager and gave away critical penalties.

Albanians showed their class, and made the most of Letchworth waiting for the whistle, with a well-taken try thanks to simple handling and support.

With the forward battle heating up, handbags were out for the first time and skipper Jaggi Johal and the Albanians scrum-half were both yellow carded.

After the break, Robinson, Dave Rae and Paul Hughes featured in a dynamic opening attack, with Albanians giving away a penalty to prevent the try. Donald converted.

Then, out of the blue, a sudden injection of pace from a set scrum saw Albanians' classy full-back away on the wing for a clinical finish.

A yellow card and three more points to Donald put the spice back into the match.

With numerical advantage, Letchworth took on Albanians up front and made good territory. Another three points followed and there was still time on the clock.

Albanians played with superb discipline to keep Letchworth pinned in their own half.

The two looseheads engaged in some off-the-ball antics and with the touch judge well sighted, Simon Hill was pardoned and his opponent sent for a 10-minute rest.

Just when Letchworth needed composure, a wild pass left them exposed five metres from their own line.

Albanians kept them there, working the clock down cleverly.

Coach Phil Waters threw on his young bench, with debut appearances for Harvey Howman, son of legendary hooker Rupert, and back rower Tom Edwards.

The youngsters had little time to change matters, and learned a harsh lesson in senior rugby.

One last attack was turned over and a speculative kick ahead was chased well. The experienced home back three stayed wide to be rewarded with a run-in for the last play of the game.

Letchworth entertain league leaders Tring at Baldock Road this Saturday.

The match will be preceded with a memorial lunch to celebrate the lives of two true legends, John Gardiner and Bob Worbey, both characters who were so much a part of Letchworth Rugby Club.

Visit www.letchworthrugby.com for some more details.

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