Slideshow: Gregg inspires Herts to emphatic victory
RFU County Shield Hertfordshire 42 Oxfordshire 3 OLD Albanian star Richard Gregg captained Hertfordshire to victory in their final RFU County Shield match of the season at Woollams against Oxfordshire on Sunday.
RFU County Shield
Hertfordshire 42 Oxfordshire 3
OLD Albanian star Richard Gregg captained Hertfordshire to victory in their final RFU County Shield match of the season at Woollams against Oxfordshire on Sunday.
Despite a number of enforced changes, the Hertfordshire pack, led by their outstanding back row, took control. The line out worked well for the home side but it was in the loose that Herts dominated the game. The back row was quicker to the break down and foraged for the ball well, winning good turnover ball while, when defence was required, the visitors could not find a way to cross the home line.
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The backs ran every available ball, as if conscious of trying to make up the points difference on group favourites Cornwall, but early in the game, when dominance had not been gained, this resulted in some frenetic play and a number of mistakes. In the second half, Herts got their reward with three well-worked tries. Acting skipper Gregg was in fine kicking form, both tactically and at goal, where he converted all six tries, using the tricky wind well.
Heavy rain before the match and a strong blustery wind made for contrasting conditions to the heat wave of last week. The Oxfordshire kick off went astray and Herts were soon in command. Ray Adde and Ian Crompton combined in a good movement to take play deep into visiting territory. Although Herts could not make a break through, the ball came loose from a defending scrum and Brent Lemiere, of St Albans RFC, grabbed the ball and bustled over for the opening try. Shortly after the restart, Herts were penalised some 40 metres from their line and Oxfordshire fly half Alex Steventon kicked a fine penalty.
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Herts scrumhalf Ryan de la Harpe set up the next try when he intercepted on his own 22, sprinted along the touchline and found Jon Child to score the try. For the remaining 10 minutes of the half Herts continued to move the ball from all positions and although mistakes were made, the home side were on top, with the score 14-3.
Herts resumed their attacking approach straight from the restart and almost scored when Chris Rainbow (Newbury) charged down a clearance kick. Herts kept up the pressure forcing a couple of five metre scrums and, from the second, full back Kieron Davies entered the line and made space for Adde to score. In the 12th minute a good Gregg kick forced the visitors to concede another five metre scrum, from which Alfie Church forced his way over the line for a 28-3 lead.
After 25 minutes play, any final hopes of an Oxfordshire recovery were dashed when Rainbow robbed them of ball when they had a scrum on the Herts 22. He took play up field and the move was completed by Gregg to take the Herts score to 35 points. Herts continued to dominate and after good turn over ball Handre Schmidt went over for a try. Herts joy at winning was tempered when just before the final whistle, the outstanding Rainbow suffered a dislocated shoulder.
The emphatic victory with six converted tries to a solitary penalty proved not quite enough for Herts to take top spot as Cornwall won the group on points difference.
Hertfordshire ended in second place and will rue the missed opportunities in their opening match against Eastern Counties.
Hertfordshire: Kieron Davies (Ampthill), Ian Crompton (Stevenage Town), Jon Child (Welwyn), Ray Adde (Hemel Hempstead), Nico Burger (Old Ashmolean), Richard Gregg (Old Albanian), Ryan de la Harpe (Letchworth); Adam Gelman (Old Albanian), Brent Lemiere (St Albans), Jim Remfry (Caldy), Peter Coke (Hertford), Robert Dumpleton (Harpenden), Alfie Church (Hertford), Chris Rainbow (Newbury), Ian Hardcastle (Westcombe Park). Replacements: Paul Welch (Hertford), Handre Schmidt (Hertford), Mark Evans (Old Albanian), Mike Green (Hemel Hempstead), Jon Patton (Hertford), Gareth Davies (Tabard), Peter Streinberg (Letchworth).