Rico watches new side claim victory

Hitchin 17 Verulamians 15 The Hedgehogs climbed away from the bottom of the league table with a hard-fought win over Verulamians, yet to win a game this season. Early pressure came to nothing as the home side missed a number of chances to open the scoring

Hitchin 17 Verulamians 15

The Hedgehogs climbed away from the bottom of the league table with a hard-fought win over Verulamians, yet to win a game this season.

Early pressure came to nothing as the home side missed a number of chances to open the scoring after spending 15 minutes camped in the Verulamians 22.

Against the run of play, it was the visitors who scored first when the Hitchin blindside defence went missing enabling Verulamians to ground an unconverted try.

With veteran Doug Brooker returning to the Hitchin side, there was no shortage of lineout ball.

But the backs were unable to make full use of the possession and let Verulamians off the hook with a number of handling errors.

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Nonetheless, as half time approached, James Bull seized possession in loose play and fed skipper Robbie Vivian who put scrum-half Dan Squires in for a try.

Soon afterwards, a searing break from full-back Lee Sheldrake put Hitchin deep into the Verulamians half with what looked like a certain score. However the final pass failed to arrive in the winger's hands.

In a scrappy second half, with Hitchin unable to come to terms with the referee, it was Verulamians who regained the lead with a pushover try following sustained forward pressure and a harsh penalty against the Hedgehogs for lifting in the scrum.

The home side came straight back at the visitors and made an excellent break towards the left-hand side of the field where Bull, receiving the ball in the opposition 22, produced a side-step to cross over the line to level the scores. The conversion was missed.

With the visitors exploiting the now cautioned and chastised Hitchin pack, Verulamians came back again with another pushover try to take the lead by five points.

Hedgehogs' replacement Greg Lewis put in a couple of probing runs along the right wing as the backs started to spread the ball wide and stretch the tiring opposition backs.

But it was a breakthrough from the front row unit taking an inside pass from Vivian that resulted in a try under the posts which Squires converted for the precious additional two points.

There was relief all round when the final whistle was blown.

New South African coach Rico Van Wyk, watching his team for the first time, congratulated them on the victory and two points.

"There is much to work on but we will get there," he said.