Grasshoppers RFC 51-24 Hitchin XV
PUBLISHED: 18:51 11 December 2017 | UPDATED: 18:51 11 December 2017
Hitchin Rugby Club's first team lost 51-24 to Grasshoppers at the weekend.
The Hedgehogs travelled to Osterley to face the West London table toppers looking for their second win of the season.
It was clear from the outset that the hosts planned to attack from all angles, using their wide pitch to their advantage. Despite two defiant last ditch tackles from full back Elliot Gibson, Grasshoppers scored out wide to take a five point lead.
Jack Powell nearly went over in the corner, Rhys Gregory quickly distributed to Ben Wiggins, who danced through the defence to touch down under the posts, unconverted to tie the game at 5-5.
A confident Grasshoppers soon unpicked the defence to take a 12-5 lead but a strong Hitchin pack took full advantage of a five metre scrum to drive their hosts over the line, number eight Ryan Arbon touching down for an unconverted try.
After 20 minutes the free-flowing Grasshoppers started to take a grip of the game, executing sophisticated attacking lines to score three further tries, taking a 27-10 half time lead.
Early encounters in the second half took place in Hitchin territory, before a serious injury to centre Gary Ayres in his first Hitchin game in 10 months, forced play to another pitch.
Despite driving the resultant scrum 10 yards up the pitch, Hitchin did not adapt well to the change in scenery. First the home side carried out a textbook blindside overlap off the back of a scrum.
A simple passing move was scored by the winger in the corner, then a centre seized upon loose Hitchin play to touch down under the posts.
With the score line stretching to 44-10, Hitchin embarked on their best spell of the game, continually forcing the opposition into errors in their own half.
Wiggins expertly kicked a penalty to touch from a tricky angle, deep into Grasshoppers territory.
England Deaf International Josh Page delivered the ball to a soaring Nick Panton, and a well formed maul walked the ball over the whitewash, James Akrill claiming the score. Hitchin continued to press, seeking a fourth try to earn a bonus point from their travels.
Now totally dominant in the scrum, Hitchin were awarded a penalty five metres from the line.
After being held up over the line, Hitchin once again got the shove on, Ryan Arbon scoring again for what must be the easiest brace of his career.
Both sides made changes as the game entered its final 10 minutes, including tighthead prop James Bolter’s opposite number who, physically wrecked from his encounter with the club captain, was substituted on grounds of safety by the referee.
Grasshoppers capitalised on another midfield mistake from Hitchin to surge down the pitch for the final score.
The Hedgehogs make the short trip to Stevenage to play their final game of 2017 on Saturday 16th December.
Team James Bolter, Thomas Tidey, James Akrill, Samuel Underwood, Nick Panton, Max Stallard, Joshua Page, Ryan Arbon, Rhys Gregory, Ben Wiggins, Jack Powell, Dale Baines, Gary Ayres, Alistair Southward, Elliot Gibson
Subs Harry Elleston, Mark Tidey, Adam Shaw
Scores T: Ryan Arbon (2), Ben Wiggins (1), James Akrill (1) C: Ben Wiggins (2)