London North West Three: Battling Tabard showing signs of turning the corner with hard-fought Datchworth victory

PUBLISHED: 13:53 03 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:24 03 October 2018

Mark Salteras recycles the ball to score in the match between Datchworth and Tabard. Picture: DANNY LOO

Mark Salteras recycles the ball to score in the match between Datchworth and Tabard. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

A battling defensive display earned Tabard a fine 20-18 win over Datchworth – even if it was in the balance right up until the final kick.

Mark Salteras recycles the ball to score in the match between Datchworth and Tabard. Picture: DANNY LOOMark Salteras recycles the ball to score in the match between Datchworth and Tabard. Picture: DANNY LOO

The Radlett-based rugby club had got off to the perfect start in glorious conditions at the picturesque village side.

There were just three minutes on the clock when the ball was recycled from a line-out across the backs, where Jonny Aguila’s textbook line bisected the home defence.

And from there they were never headed again although Datchworth were always in touch.

A Tom Wood penalty narrowed the gap but Jack Reilly, who had converted the earlier try, bagged one of his own to cancel that out.

Mark Salteras recycles the ball to score in the match between Datchworth and Tabard. Picture: DANNY LOOMark Salteras recycles the ball to score in the match between Datchworth and Tabard. Picture: DANNY LOO

It was after this that Tabard’s defence came to the fore.

Datchworth were well on top in terms of possession at this point but even after the visitors lost Dan Calnan for 10 minutes, they couldn’t get through.

All they could manage was a further Wood penalty, leaving Tabard 10-6 up at the break.

The second half started just as the first had, with Tabard on top, and after 53 minutes they had their second try, Aaron Priscott brushing off a number of tackles to score in the corner.

John Aguila celebrates a score in the match between Datchworth and Tabard. Picture: DANNY LOOJohn Aguila celebrates a score in the match between Datchworth and Tabard. Picture: DANNY LOO

Datchworth finally got a try shortly after through Alex Nolan, which Wood converted to leave the gap at two.

But with the game in the balance and six minutes to go, Aguila broke clear and looked to be going in for his second.

He was stopped short but Mark Salteras was following up.

It still left Tabard just seven points ahead and the hearts were in the mouth of the visiting support as James Hankin went over on the last play.

Tom Blackwell drives for the line in the closing moments of the match between Datchworth and Tabard. Picture: DANNY LOOTom Blackwell drives for the line in the closing moments of the match between Datchworth and Tabard. Picture: DANNY LOO

Fortunately Wood’s kick was off target and the win was Tabard’s.

Try scorer Aguila believes the performance shows the club are turning the corner after last season’s relegation.

He said: “Last year was a tough one for us, from being one of the top teams to losing every game.

“But we’re not playing too bad this year. It’s still early in the season and we’re still missing a few players, but we’re getting there.

James Hankin goes over to score with the last move of the game to give Datchworth a chance of a draw in the match between Datchworth and Tabard. Picture: DANNY LOOJames Hankin goes over to score with the last move of the game to give Datchworth a chance of a draw in the match between Datchworth and Tabard. Picture: DANNY LOO

“We’re still working on little bits but what we’ve got is really good.”

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