Relegation’s now a reality for the Hedgehogs

Hitchin 24 Old Hamptonians 51 Hitchin s relegation was confirmed in a game they contrived to lose rather than the visitors from West London having to really earn the points. The Hedgehogs kicked off knowing that only a miracle would save them from the dro

Hitchin 24 Old Hamptonians 51

Hitchin's relegation was confirmed in a game they contrived to lose rather than the visitors from West London having to really earn the points.

The Hedgehogs kicked off knowing that only a miracle would save them from the drop and so it proved.

With stand-in skipper Robbie Vivian out through injury, Hitchin were led for the first time by stalwart and ex-Hitchin Boys' School first team captain Shaun Prutton.

Faint hopes disappeared immediately when Hamptonians ran in a try which was converted without a Hitchin player putting in a tackle.

The Hedgehogs responded immediately with a good drive by the forwards and break out by the backs ending with a try by Chris Martin which was converted by Dan Squire.

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Once again, within a few minutes, Hitchin's relaxed attitude resulted in another converted try for the visitors followed soon after by another score which put Hamptonians 19-7 in the lead.

Hitchin had their chances and more than their fair share of the ball but poor options, slack tackling and too many turnovers allowed the visitors from London to keep the scoreboard rolling.

Another try was scored by the opposition before Joe Benucci crashed over for a well-worked try which was converted by Squire.

Turning round 15 points down at the break, two more tries were gifted to the Hamptonians side by careless passing and the ability of the visiting backs to punish any slackness.

A try by winger Simeon Green was well organised from a blindside break and then fly-half Squire jinked his way over the line for a score which he also converted.

Further efforts brought no more scores from the home side and the game finished off the season which had promised lots but delivered little.

Having fielded more than 50 players in the first XV this season, it was always difficult to get any form of consistency and the high spate of injuries, relocation and retirements meant it was going to be a hard campaign.

The average age of the team has plummeted with many new young home-grown players introduced to the team along with the contributions made by Kiwi Squire, the arrival of Mark Jennings and the efforts of ex-first team skipper Aidan Barnett who was plagued throughout by some horrendous injuries.

Skipper Paul Howard's absence did not help and the club is grateful for the contribution and commitment from stand-in skipper Vivian who returned after a few years away and coached and led the team from the front.

Outgoing chairman of playing John Drew said: "This year was always going to be difficult after losing an outstanding number eight to relocation, two wingers to clubs in higher leagues and the high number of injuries that were sustained.

"We have built for the future, blooded a high number of colts into the first XV and now we are advertising for a club coach to guide us back into the London Leagues next season.

"The club would like to publicly thank all players who have worn the maroon and white this season."

The game was preceded by the final vice-presidents' lunch of the season, sponsored by ex-first XV player Phil Jones of Interchange Group.

P This weekend sees Hitchin host the Greene King plate and cup finals

Hitchin's second XV are contesting the Super Premiere plate final against Bishop's Stortford.

Five other finals take place between 12.30pm and 5.15pm.

And on the final Saturday of the season (April 28), Hitchin will host the Robin Thorpe memorial match in aid of Lymphoma charities.

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