Sunday, 14 August 2022

Teenager grabs late consolation try for visitors

ZOO Shield league leaders Hertford proved stern opposition for the Bulls as their growing confidence took a blow at Hoe Lane on Saturday.

Continuity in selection is not a luxury the Bulls have enjoyed this season and a further six changes to the starting line-up asked immediate questions of their ability to organise a suitable game plan to contain the well-drilled Hertford side.

Early signs were that the Bulls would try to stretch the Hertford team to the wider channels of the pitch and attempt to tire the larger pack whose dominance of the front row battle was evident from the first scrummage.

Hertford scored three tries unaswered tries during a lively first half which the Bulls contributed to first hand. Both opening scores were a result of loose passes going to the wrong hand on the flank as the Bulls backs stretched Hertford to the limits of their defensive capability. Both tries were run in from 50-60 metres against the flow of possession and a broken defence which was too slow in transition following the turn-over.

The third Hertford score came as a result of some over-urgency to relieve the constant forward pressure applied by the Hertford pack as the Bulls rushed to tap and go from their own five metre line when awarded a free kick. The pass went to ground and during the ensuing scramble the Hertford centre gathered the bobbling ball and dabbed down under the Bulls posts.

Despite some decent line-out possession the Bulls failed to make headway on the first half scoreboard and turned around at half-time with a mountain to climb yet try to climb it they did. Every attempt to make use of minimal possession was stifled by the Hertford defence whose work on the ground after the tackle was very effective in stemming any continuity the Bulls were building.

The home team’s ability to bring their attacking forwards around the corner quicker than the tiring Bulls defence aided in two further tries for Hertford who led convincingly 35-0 after 60 minutes.

The remaining 20 minutes proved the most fruitful for the Bulls as 18-year-old Iwan MaCrae made the most of the space afforded him cutting through the Hertford defence on several occasions with elusive running that could have provided three tries in the final period had the Bulls finishing been more precise. An individual turn-over and line-break from Jake O’Leary petered out before the try line through some good scramble defence.

The Bulls did get their consolation score following a searing break from MaCrae that was well supported by scrum-half Luke Huelin who provided the finishing touch down that Adam Lubbock converted.

Henley Bulls: James Owen, Matt Hodson, Louie Henson, Mo Bangura (Adam Geering, 41 mins), Jake O’Leary, Dan Foley, Scott White, Tommy Haynes, Luke Huelin, Adam Lubbock, Iwan MaCrae, Luca Townshend, Tom Gardner, Sam Quelch, Jack Robinson (Archie Van Dijk, 51 mins).

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