So nip and tuck
Ruislip 12 Letchworth Garden City 12 Honours were eventually shared in this thrilling London Two North match which could have gone either way. It exploded into life on the cusp of half-time, and then remained nip and tuck right until the final whistle. Le
Ruislip 12 Letchworth Garden City 12
Honours were eventually shared in this thrilling London Two North match which could have gone either way.
It exploded into life on the cusp of half-time, and then remained nip and tuck right until the final whistle.
Letchworth kicked off in front of a large crowd, with both wind and slope in their favour.
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Paul Hughes, returning at scrum-half, was a veritable lynchpin for the side while skipper Jaggi Johal was back to his rampant best.
Fly-half Gavin Donald also had a much improved game and the backs outside him, with Ryan de la Harpe prevalent in the centre, proved they could and would use the ball if allowed.
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Unfortunately they were not given much scope to do this in the opening 30 minutes as Ruislip won most of the forward battles.
The home side's backs wasted a lot of ball or else their Letchworth counterparts put them under pressure with fierce tackling.
Veteran lock Tim Moynihan and his Ruislip counterpart Lee Askew were both sin binned midway through the half after a small bust-up.
After Robin French was binned for killing the ball after Ruislip had encamped on the Letchworth try line, things looked desperate for the visitors.
Somehow Johal stole Ruislip's ball and set in motion an 80m move.
The ball moved from Hughes to Donald to de la Harpe, Henry Robinson and on to Mike Stack who broke past his man and chipped forward and caught his own ball.
Speedy full-back Robinson was on hand to take on the ball and pass to de la Harpe who clattered over to score. Donald narrowly missed the conversion.
Another chip from Stack nearly saw Robinson through on the stroke of half time.
The home side were stung into retribution mode after the break having had most of the play in the first half.
They kicked deep and muscled into Letchworth's 22. Number four Askew went over in a huddle of bodies in the corner but the referee was unsighted as it appeared that the big lock had gone into touch before the score.
In the first of several controversial decisions, he questioned the Ruislip touch judge who was well behind play and made out he had seen nothing.
Ruislip, with slope and breeze, had an intense period of pressure but the visitors did not yield.
Further controversy was caused when the referee binned skipper Johal for a technical infringement yet let blatant punching from the Ruislip front row go unpunished.
Eventually the game erupted with handbags being wielded all over the place.
Amazingly no one received a yellow or red for this outburst!
Once things had calmed down, Ruislip pushed on a five-yard scrum and Letchworth went back.
The ball appeared to be grounded about half a yard short but the referee awarded a try much to acting skipper Hughes' disgust. Despite protests, the score stood and Forster converted to make it 12-5 to Ruislip.
Johal returned soon after and coach Phil 'Muddy' Waters brought on Nick Winwood to bolster the front row.
This ploy worked as Letchworth won more ball and the backs began to exploit their tiring rivals. Even so it seemed the home side would hold out.
However, a great crossfield move by the backs saw de la Harpe, Robinson and Stack all involved with a final pass to flying centre Liam Corcoran who went over in the corner.
This left Donald with a difficult conversion but the fly-half held his nerve and slotted the ball clear between the uprights to level matters.
With all the extra time played, Ruislip still pressed but once again the backs brought the ball up to the home side's half and in the dying seconds the visitors got a penalty out wide.
Once again Donald stood up for this difficult kick. As the crowd hushed, it seemed that the strike was a good one.
But the ball hit the upright and then bounced out as a grateful home side cleared their lines and the match ended in a deserved draw.
This was a vastly improved performance from Letchworth and with several players returning from injury, it looks like they could enjoy a good second half to the season.