With the sun shining and the pitch rock hard, we knew it would be a quick game. There was a buzz of anticipation to see two explosive backlines take each other on in perfect running conditions. Our main objective in the pack was to disrupt their game as much as we could and make sure the backs had some space to play with.
The last bit of pre-match talk was about stepping up physicality. They are a well conditioned team who would be expecting an easy ride so we would need some Paul O'Connell style 'manic aggression'!
|Shottsy proving his worth!|
I don’t think they were expecting such an aggressive start. They opened the scoring with a penalty but we responded with two quick tries, one from Titch Roberts and the other from Tim Loughnan - the result of a spectacular offload from Nathan Lambden.
It was a thrilling see-saw game and the visitors hit back with a try and penalty from full back Stuart Smart. We took a slender 12-11 lead into the break after a tense and enthralling first half. We had spurned a couple of gild-edged chances but we were playing well and deserved our lead.
There was no let up in the second half and again we were flying out of the blocks. Good early pressure lead to a penalty on their line. Quick thinking from fly half Jimmy ‘No Shower’ Fouracre wrestled back the initiative as he took the quick tap and dived over and then slotted the extras.
The turning point came half way through the second half. A controversial yellow card to ‘No Shower’, without any prior warning, put us on the back foot. Hertford were able to establish a foothold in the game and their muscular pack started to take control. Their driving mall proved difficult to stop despite our best efforts and hooker Brett McNamee crashed over. Another score, this time from the dangerous Ian Compton, meant we’d conceded 12 points during Jimmy’s sin bin which was the nail in the coffin.
The mercurial Lambden pulled one back with a sparkling interception but the rot had already set in. Two more tries from the criminally arrogant McNamee and a penalty from Smart left the final score a heart-breaking 38-26.
It was so disappointing as it would have been a fantastic result to end an excellent season. As it is we have to look at the silver lining instead of bask in victory’s warmth. There is no shame in this score line - not many other teams can claim a four try bonus point against Hertford this season - but it is still shattering to be so close and lose.
There were any number of excellent performances in a memorable game. ‘Jonnobrow’ Morgan lead from the front admirably and Nathan Lambden was unlucky not to bag a hat-trick of interceptions. But all were eclipsed by the superlative Tommy Newton. A truly inspirational performance from Tring’s truest servant, showing his undeniable talent in both defence and attack. The most impressive thing is that Hertford know him well and know what to expect but he still slips through tackles like a greased up eel at a disco!