Big win for Hitchin and pride in defeat for both Letchworth and Datchworth
- Credit: KARYN HADDON
Hitchin cemented themselves further as the team to beat in London Three North West after victory over one of their nearest rivals.
Finchley had gone into the match at Old Hale Way ahead of the Hedgehogs in the standings but the 24-12 win means Hitchin have now jumped three points clear of them, and with a game in hand, having maintained their 100 per cent record.
There were numerous handling errors in the opening 20 minutes as both teams tried to fathom out the wind conditions and by half-time, there was still nothing to separate them with both having scored one try each.
Hitchin took the lead on 25 minutes, Ciaran Sale using a free ball to kick through and re-gather, but the visitors fought back, exerting pressure for the remainder of the half and working an overlap on the left to equalise.
But with the wind now at their backs, Hitchin took every opportunity to put the ball in behind the Finchley defence. and from one occasion, James Dobree-Carey exchanged passes with Rhys Gregory to touch down.
Will Evans added the conversion but was off target when Dobree-Carey added another from a five-metre scrum.
Bertrand Debeuf scored the all-important bonus point score after excellent interplay between Gregory, Fred Rooney and James Bolter.
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Evans did land this for a 24-5 lead and although Finchley pulled one back late on, there was no more drama.
Letchworth more than proved that they could live with the best in London North West Two despite a 31-26 defeat at HAC, their second loss of the season.
In a high-octane game at Dukes Meadows, they found themselves 21-0 down after 30 minutes to the league leaders and things could have been even worse had flying winger Tattenda Gurure not stopped a certain try by holding his opposite number up over the line.
That proved a turning point and from then on the Legends improved.
They had five points back before the interval, Luke Mongston pouncing after a great shove by the Letchworth forwards, and they narrowed the gap further in the second half with another forwards try, converted by Michael Waters.
It was after this that HAC produced what turned out to be the winning moment in their best spell of the half, adding seven more points.
Letchworth breathed a sigh of relief a few minutes later when full-back Chris Gibbs was able to stay on the field despite a horrible collision, but they conceded a further three points when Mongston was penalised for a high tackle.
The final 20 minutes though belonged to the visitors.
A great break by Gibbs led to a Letchworth penalty and Michael Waters danced through before feeding Tatenda Gurure for a superb third try, Dan Duke landing the conversion.
A quickly-taken penalty by Gibbs brought a yellow card for HAC and with Waters proving a handful, Gibbs got the bonus-point try with Duke putting Letchworth just five points behind.
The final whistle prevented the completion of the comeback but they will travel to Hackney Marshes to face Old Streetonians on Saturday full of confidence after this performance.
There were also two bonus points for Datchworth as they too found pride in defeat, this one a 31-27 reverse at home to Old Streetonians.
Both teams showed a willingness to move the ball wide and each team scored five tries, with wingers James Watt and James Wilson finishing well after some slick running and passing by the young midfield trio of Franco Caroleo, Tom Johnson and Ollie Barnes.
Vice-Captain Johnson also scored an excellent individual try under the posts after a break from the opposition 22, bullocking through a small gap before taking half the opposition pack over the try-line with him.
Not to be outdone by their backs, the forwards also scored two tries from close quarters through Jamie Smith and Dom Negri.
Unfortunately, although Datchworth generally defended well, there were two periods in the second half when their defence went AWOL.
Having reached half-time only two points behind at 12-10, and with two opposition players in the sin bin, they took their eye off the ball to concede two tries within minutes of the second half starting and were soon 31-10 down.
The predominantly young team is quickly developing resilience and grit though and bounced back and spent the last five minutes camped in the Old Street 22.
Only excellent defence prevented Datch from getting more.