Uncertainty surrounds Stags’ victory
Harpenden 5 Stevenage Town 12 Confusion reigned at the end of this encounter and Stags are waiting for a ruling from the league executive on the final outcome. The final result was a victory for the league leaders. But the confusion arose because the game
Stevenage Town 12
Confusion reigned at the end of this encounter and Stags are waiting for a ruling from the league executive on the final outcome.
The final result was a victory for the league leaders.
But the confusion arose because the game went to uncontested scrums after 17 minutes of the second half with the score 5-5, when a second Harpenden front row forward left the field and they did not have a suitable replacement.
The league rules state that at that point the game is technically abandoned but the match continues and the league has to make a ruling on the final outcome.
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It is difficult to see how they can make any decision other than to allow the result to stand.
At the time the game went to uncontested scrums, the Stevenage pack was completely dominating the forward exchanges in both set and loose and pushing back their opponents at a rate of knots.
Town totally lost that momentum when the game went to uncontested scrums, although they did manage a matchwinning try with 15 minutes remaining when prop Barry Cook charged over after a period of sustained pressure.
Earlier, Stevenage suffered a huge blow when full-back Gareth Lewis was knocked out and it was unclear whether he had sustained a far more serious injury.
The game was suspended while an ambulance was called and eventually the referee decided to call an end to the first half with at least five minutes remaining.
He decided to play the second half on an adjoining pitch, with Lewis still laid out on the main pitch. Lewis was eventually taken to hospital and happily he was discharged later suffering from concussion but no other more serious injury.
The game itself was a dogged affair spoiled by the difficult conditions.
Harpenden started brightly and Stevenage wasted what possession they had in the early exchanges by trying to be over elaborate in conditions that required a more basic game.
The home side took the lead after 19 minutes when they took a quick lineout and good support play resulted in a try in the corner.
Stevenage replied in similar fashion after 26 minutes when this time they took a quick lineout and number eight Gareth Roberts did great work on the short side making several yards and keeping in play, before passing inside to Adam Amos who scored to bring Town level.
The match then followed a familiar pattern with Town gaining the initiative in the forward exchanges.
However, as the match progressed, Stevenage did keep the ball close and relied mainly on forward drives.
This ensured that Stags had periods of sustained pressure and opportunities for Harpenden were kept to a minimum.
The pressure eventually told with Cook's winning try which was converted from wide out in driving rain by fly-half Kyle Lemon.
Coach Terry Penny was pleased with the performance of his forwards who put in another dominating display.
Town face possibly their sternest test of the season so far this weekend when they travel to Spalding in the fifth round of the EDF Energy Senior Vase.
Penny will be looking for a similar performance from his forwards together with a greater contribution from his three-quarters.
# Datchworth continue to struggle in the same division and they were beaten 12-8 at home by St Albans.