Twin goals are set
Letchworth 32 Eton Manor 10 Letchworth Rugby Club captain Paul Hughes has two clear goals for the season ahead. Hughes wants the first XV to improve on last season s fifth place and record a county cup final appearance. Two victories so far in the London
Eton Manor 10
Letchworth Rugby Club captain Paul Hughes has two clear goals for the season ahead.
Hughes wants the first XV to improve on last season's fifth place and record a county cup final appearance.
Two victories so far in the London Two North have shown Hughes' aims are realistic.
The top team will gain automatic promotion and the runners-up will be involved in a play-off with the second team from the London Two South.
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Letchworth lead the division on points difference after a comfortable 32-10 home win over league new boys Eton Manor.
Former Saracens man Hughes, who missed the match due to a slight tear in his hamstring, said: "I think we've got a lot more in the locker.
"We're playing some attractive rugby and the players enjoy that.
"There are some good young lads and the new boys are settling in well as well."
Saturday's visitors, from their home at Nutter Lane, travelled with a reputation for robust forward play. Strangely for so early in the season, they were missing significant numbers of their best players through injury.
While Letchworth could equally claim problems with captain Hughes and vice-captain Morgan Bevan on the treatment table, their rhythm was hardly disrupted.
Giles Cooke skippered with calm efficiency and the pairing of Martin Kirby with Phil Pearson in the engine room added pace around the park with quality lineout ball.
The first five minutes were contrary to the rest of the game. Letchworth were forced to give away penalties as the Essex team tore into the fray. It was no surprise when Anderson slotted the first points.
Letchworth soon mounted pressure as breaks first by Ben Cottenden from full-back, then Gavin Donald at fly-half, had the defence shredded. It was captain Cooke who finished the move, crossing near the posts. Donald stepped up to convert.
With Cooke marshalling the pack and Donald vocal outside, Letchworth began to gel.
Manor's stretched defence held on manfully and illegally, but the referee's patience was eventually tested too far. With five minutes of the half to go, the first yellow card went to their number seven.
Tries followed as Cottenden featured again, breaking the defence for Matt Turner to feed Ian Parkhouse to score.
Pearson made good yards to create the next opportunity. Manor had to infringe to stop the move, giving a penalty which was dispatched to the corner. Lineout and drive, with the extra man, it was hooker Andy Morris' debut try for the club.
Donald converted both tries, with another good kicking display. The skilful Kiwi, previously at Redruth, is already proving a firm favourite with the crowd.
Manor came out of the blocks fast again after the break. Anderson showed great individual skills to split the midfield and canter home. Converting his own try, it looked game on.
Letchworth suddenly seemed vulnerable again, especially when Ian Smith was harshly judged to have high tackled his opposite number and was yellow carded.
Manor's young full-back joined Smith in the sin bin to equal the numbers and Donald took a penalty chance to extend the lead.
Coach Bob Crooks rang the changes, prop Nick Winwood being replaced by Darren Spillane.
Spillane gained the biggest ironic cheer of the day when a try scoring pass ricocheted off with the line at his mercy.
Letchworth's constant pressure yielded only one further penalty, until almost the last play of the match.
Anderson, having been clattered far too much for a fly-half, lost his cool in front of the referee, aiming a haymaker at Morris and was promptly shown red.
A controlled scrum gave livewire Luke Starr so many options and he chose the narrow side, rounding the winger with comfort to score.
Letchworth travel to London Nigerians this weekend.
The club recorded a clean sweep, with victories against Old Albanians and Potton.