Hitchin 24-34 Welwyn: Hedgehogs raise game but still need Lady Luck to make an appearance
PUBLISHED: 15:40 27 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:25 27 November 2017
Hitchin lost 24-34 to Welwyn as they raised their game against their third-placed visitors - but still need Lady Luck to help out occasionally.
Having been close to winning against league leaders Verulamiams earlier in the month the Hedgehogs again raised their game at Old Hale way on Saturday to put up a great fight especially in the second half.
It was a battle as the home side were forced into replacing prop Sean McGinnity and lock Sam Underwood, both with suspected concussion as Hitchin were then reduced to 14 men after 15 minutes, with the issue of a disputed red card.
Earlier Hitchin had started the match well, camped in the visitors’ half, and after five minutes were rewarded with a try as the pack attacked the line for McgGinnity to touch down.
Welwyn came back strongly to the Hitchin 22, but the defence held out. But soon the strong Welwyn backs cut through the midfield to find touch 10m from the line. Play was switched across the field where an overlap allowed them to score an unconverted try to draw level.
Both sides were putting together attacking phases, but the respective defences held out, until after 25 minutes the Hitchin pack gained ground for prop Harry Elleston to cross the line as Ben Higgins added the extra points from near touch – giving his side a seven point lead.
However, the lead was short-lived as the Welwyn backs again cut through some poor tackling to score a converted try to draw level at 12-12.
As half time approached, the visitors found touch 10 from the Hitchin line and moved play towards the posts before the pack gained a third try to take a five point lead into the second half.
The early stages of the second half produced some scrappy play as 10 minutes in a Welwyn player was yellow carded.
Five minutes later, a scuffle off the ball resulted in a further yellow for Welwyn, and a red for Hitchin, although the referee awarded Hitchin the resulting penalty.
Welwyn scored their bonus point forth try to take a 10 point lead, but the home side came back strongly.
Putting pressure on the visitors’ goalline they were awarded a penalty try to narrow the gap to just three points, although a card was not issued.
After 30 minutes Hitchin kept up the pressure as, back again in the Welwyn 22, the forwards took control for veteran Ryan Arbon to be credited with a further five points, the 14 men taking a slender but well deserved two point lead and a bonus point.
The visitors raised their game and launched attacks only for the Hitchin defence to keep them at bay, and eventually cleared their line with a kick to touch on halfway, only to be brought back for a penalty for an apparent offside.
Welwyn took advantage of a disrupted defence to cross in the corner for seven points, and a five point lead.
As Hitchin, back in the Welwyn half, sought to bring about an unexpected victory but Welwyn broke away on the right wing to run through for a sixth try, Hitchin losing a further bonus point with the final score at 24 – 34.
A good performance by the Hedgehogs, but once again not the result they wanted.
Hitchin: Sean McGinnity, Joshua Page, James Akrill, Max Stallard, Nick Panton, Samuel Underwood, Lewis Pettinger, James Bolter, Heinrich Schlehmeyer, Ben Wiggins, Harry Cartwright, Carwyn Morgan, Jack Peachey, Jack Powell, Alistair Southward
Subs Harry Elleston, Joe Barnes, Ryan Arbon
Scores T: Sean McGinnity (1), Harry Elleston (1), Ryan Arbon (1) C: Ben Wiggins (1)
Player(s) of Match 1. Nick Panton