Datchworth show guts and determination ahead of crucial league battle with Hampstead
- Credit: KARYN HADDON
Injuries and COVID absentees made it a tough afternoon for Datchworth at Ruislip but the gutsy performance also hints at a positive end to their London Two North West season.
The Villagers returned home on the end of a 33-8 defeat but it was they who had opened the scoring on eight minutes with a penalty from young winger James Wilson and by half-time they only trailed by four points, Dom Negri barging over from the base of a scrum.
The high hopes for the second half did not come to pass though as the home scrum began to dominate at the set-pieces.
The Men in Green did create chances but lacked a clinical edge, something the Ruislip backs did not as they turned good ball into points with three converted tries.
The hosts were worthy winners in the end but the score was not a fair reflection on a young Datchworth team who continues to compete strongly in every game.
In the pack, John Simons and Negri were outstanding while fly-half Franco Caroleo was also excellent in both defence and attack.
Credit also went to Greg Emms and Ben Akers who stepped up to the plate from the second team and gave good accounts of themselves.
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Datch will hope to carry all of this positivity into a crucial home game with Hampstead on Saturday.
Hitchin's second team meanwhile earned a 34-14 win over Stevenage Town.
Hitchin started slowly, failing to secure the ruck, and following an excellent break by ex-Hedgehog Luke Weynberg, the Stevenage number eight wandered through a ponderous Hitchin defence for the opening score inside five minutes.
Centre Simon Taylor won a turnover at the ruck inside the Stevenage 22, and the ball was worked through hands for winger Ross Howard to score in the corner.
The line-outs were a lottery on a blustery day and both teams struggled to retain possession for sustained periods.
Hitchin managed to put together a few phases and found space but flanker James Hunt was cruelly denied a try when his boot was adjudged to have clipped the touchline.
Two minutes later a similar play resulted in the second Hitchin try, second-row Jon Welsford powering through a pair of tackles from 10 metres out.
A chip through by Stevenage was collected and full back Harry Wilkinson put in a perfectly-timed pass for scrum half to break clear, passing to Ian Crompton to score the third try.
Fly-half George Vivian scored the extras for a 17-7 half-time lead.
From the kick-off, Hitchin played five phases across the width of the pitch and back again, Ross Howard finally collecting a messy pass and beating his opposite man to score their fourth try.
Stevenage responded almost immediately, their talented number 8 picking up off the back of the scrum and running in from the 22-metre line to reduce the deficit to eight points.
But a quick-tap penalty set Hitchin on their way to another score, Phil Ryan touching down, and then Crompton went at pace from inside his own half to round off the scoring.
Hitchin remain second in Herts Middlesex Merit Table Three, a point behind Tring who they play on Saturday.