Herts head for Twickenham
RFU County Championship Shield Middlesex 28 Hertfordshire 39 Old Albanian trio Richard Gregg, Mark Evans and Adam Gelman were all involved as Hertfordshire topped the Southern Pool of the RFU County Championship Shield, by beating Middlesex at Staines on
RFU County Championship Shield
Middlesex 28 Hertfordshire 39
Old Albanian trio Richard Gregg, Mark Evans and Adam Gelman were all involved as Hertfordshire topped the Southern Pool of the RFU County Championship Shield, by beating Middlesex at Staines on Saturday and so maintained their unbeaten record.
Evans crossed the line for his fourth try in three matches while Gregg, who was captaining the side, added three conversions and a penalty.
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Hertfordshire now play Cheshire in the Shield final at Twickenham next Saturday, kicking off at the early hour of 10am.
Hertfordshire were not at full strength for this match with a number of players unavailable or injured and they were given a testing time by Middlesex. The home side were fired up, playing for pride following two defeats, and it took some time before Herts got into the game. It took a while for the new back row combination to settle and the lineouts were not as secure as usual. But when good ball was established the backs once again showed flare and used the ball to good effect. The forwards also handled well in the loose and when Middlesex came back late in the game the defence was pretty solid.
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Middlesex had the best of the opening quarter of the game as the revised Herts side settled.
Richard Mahoney (Rosslyn Park) opened the scoring with a penalty for Middlesex from the 22 after only four minutes and Middlesex continued to keep the pressure on the visitors. Five minutes later, from a lineout 20 metres out Middlesex ran the ball, recycled and centre Martin Ridley (Rosslyn Park) crossed the line for a try converted by Mahoney. Herts went 13 points down a few minutes later when they conceded a penalty at a ruck and Mahoney added the points.
However, from the restart, Middlesex knocked on and Herts set up a good position. A clever kick from Handre Schmidt (Cambridge) was gathered by David Rose (Bishop's Stortford) who touched down to open the visitors' account. Although Middlesex were still looking dangerous, the visitors were getting back in the game. On the half hour a Herts attack was foiled by Middlesex but in doing so they conceded a penalty 30 metres out and Gregg made no mistake with his kick.
Herts were now running all the ball that they got and twice came close before another telling Schmidt run made room for left wing Adam Roberts (Hertford) to cross the line to level the scores. Then just before the half time whistle the visitors took the lead through a try by Steve Ellis (Hertford) converted by Gregg.
Although Middlesex closed the gap with a Mahoney penalty straight from the second half kick off, they knocked on the restart and Schmidt took play to the home 22 with a great run. The home side were then penalised and Evans took the penalty and sprinted over the line for a try, well converted by Gregg. Herts were now playing with confidence and it was not long before Stuart Smart (Hertford) broke from well inside his own half and passed to Roberts who then sprinted from the 10 metre line to the try line. Gregg added the conversion and Herts were 34-16 up.
Next it was the turn of the Herts forwards to show their skill with the ball. Prop Gelman popped up in the line made ground and gave the ball to his hooker, Giles Wallis (Tring) who only had 30 metres to go to score. He did and Herts led by 23 points.
The pattern of play then fell away as a number of substitutions were made by both sides. Herts gave away a penalty that enabled the home side to set up an attack and as they drove over the line No 8 Charlie Cooper (Rosslyn Park) was awarded a try after consultation with the touch judge. Dave Knill (Staines) converted. Play became a bit scrappy and, although Middlesex pressed, the Herts defence was solid until just before the final whistle when a Middlesex drive put Sam Gibbons (London Welsh) over for an unconverted try.
Hertfordshire now look forward to their meeting with Cheshire, hoping that any remaining niggling injuries clear up by next week.
HERTFORDSHIRE: Kieron Davies (Ampthill); Handre Schmidt (Cambridge), Stuart Smart (Hertford), Steve Small (Hertford), Adam Roberts (Hertford); Richard GREGG (Old Albanian) (Capt), Mark EVANS (Old Albanian); Adam GELMAN (Old Albanian), Giles Wallis (Tring), Jim Remfry (Caldy), Rob Anderson (Saracens Academy), Adam Amos (Stevenage Town), Alfie Church (Hertford), David Rose (Bishop's Stortford), Johan Van Dyk (Old Ashmoleans).
Replacements: Matt Cross (Hertford (Wallis 63m)), Rob Schillaci (Hertford (Gelman 58m)), Mark McCraith (Bishop's Stortford (Amos 48m)) Sean Hardy (Hertford (Van Dyk 48m)), Steve Ellis (Hertford (Small 14m)), Ray Adde (Hemel Hempstead (Evans 58m), Tom Newton (Tring (Davies 73m)).