Defeat in Tankard final but Datchworth will take plenty of confidence into next year
PUBLISHED: 12:13 30 April 2018 | UPDATED: 13:31 30 April 2018
Datchworth’s Nick Gudgin believes his side can gain confidence from their end of season run – even though it ended with a 46-20 defeat to Hemel Hempstead in the Herts Presidents’ Tankard final.
The Datchworth Green-based rugby club had stormed out of the London North West Three relegation zone with three straight wins against some of the league’s big hitters.
And even in the Allianz Park showdown against a Camelot side from the league above, the men in green had plenty of moments of superiority.
But they were up against a team who were clinical in attack and rock-solid in defence and Gudgin, Datchworth’s skipper, admitted they deserved the win.
He said: “I think the score flattered them but they were the better team though and they really came out all guns blazing.
“Their fitness prevailed. They’re a big, strong and physical side and they played really well.
“I don’t mind losing to the better team and unfortunately that was the case today.”
Hemel had raced into a 21-3 lead inside the first quarter, splitting the Datchworth line open to score three converted tries.
But James Watt pulled a try back in the corner shortly after and added another in almost the same spot nine minutes later as Datchworth added to an earlier Richard Mills penalty.
They conceded a fourth try just two minutes after the restart but that led to a spell of 20 minutes when they were dominated possession and territory.
They continually battered at the Hemel door but were met by strong tackles each and every time driving them back.
The pressure had to tell though and finally a gap opened dup big enough for Stuart Young to burst through.
Two late penalties and two tries gave the final score a bit of a lop-sided feel but Gudgin said that the performance gave a clue as to their late-season form.
He said: “It’s just clicked. Everything we have been trying to do just came together; it’s just taken too long unfortunately.
“We got a few players back from injury which just made a big difference to us as a team and a club.
“Today we saw what we need to do [next season]. Hopefully we can take that into pre-season and gain confidence from what we’ve got and progress from where we are.”