Vees suffer Harlequins disappointment

Herts/Middlesex One

Harlequins Amateurs 10

Verulamians 5

VERULAMIANS opened their Herts/Middlesex One campaign with a trip to west London to face Harlequins Amateurs.

After several solid performances in pre-season the Vees were looking to get the ball rolling with a first away win against last season’s strugglers, however, the Vees travelled home empty handed after an improved Quins side battled to victory.

The Vees started poorly allowing their hosts early territory and possession which they converted into three points following a penalty for an infringement at the breakdown.

Although fighting against a stiff breeze the Vees looked sluggish in the opening stages and struggled to get out of their own half. The home side used the wind well and kept the visitors under pressure deep inside their 22, launching several waves of attacks. The Vees defence stood strong and forced their opponents back before finally forcing a penalty to gain some much needed field position.

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Following this strong show of tackling Verulamians appeared to build momentum and after several powerful runs from the forwards a penalty was awarded which fly half Crowne kicked to the corner. Debutant hooker Rigby found his trusty jumper Wildey in the lineout and the Vees set up the drive towards the line but were frustratingly held up a few metres short.

The Vees had fought back well against the wind but they were still being pinned in their own half by some good Quins kicking. However, full-back Westhead and wing Sabato were able to counter and combined well to release the winger down the right. Sabato beat his man for pace and offloaded to No.8 Luxford who appeared out of nowhere in support.

Unfortunately the Vees could not finish the move and were turned over and soon found themselves back in their own territory.

The first half remained tight with Quins utilising the wind but the deadlock was broken after some prolonged pressure on the Vees defence.

The home side were patient and finally worked an overlap after drawing the Vees winger out of position finishing well in the corner. With the try converted Verulamians found themselves 10-nil down at the break.

Now with the wind Verulamians looked to impose their running game on their hosts. They began the second half well with strong running from the back row with Luxford and flanker Turner carrying well. However, buoyed by their first half performance, the Quins defence stood up strong.

Quins also showed their strength in the scrum as they continually frustrated the visitors denying them clean front foot ball.

With time ticking away the Vees began to take more risks and threw the ball wide. When replacement flanker Moralee stood up his man and fed the ball wide he freed centre Wooley who raced through a gaping hole. With men close up in support the move continued with the ball being offloaded. The scrambling Quins finally put a tackle in five metres out and recovered well forcing a penalty from which they cleared their lines.

Having missed an excellent chance the Vees still had time left to work their way back into the game. They were given a ray of hope when they finally crossed the Quins line.

After stubborn home defence Crowne decided to chip and, with ball retained, Luxford once again supported well and carried forward before the ball was popped up to lock Katz. The lock did well to gather the pass and stood up strong to cross the line. With Crowne missing the conversion the Vees were now within five points of their hosts.

The travelling team rallied and made further inroads in to Quins territory but some sloppy handling and some good tackling prevented any further score for the Vees.

With the game ending at ten points to five the home side had hung on to their lead and battled their way to a hard fought victory. Verulamians will be frustrated in their performance as they would have looked to get their season off to a winning start.

The Vees players will now have to regroup following this opening weekend disappoint and reflect on some rusty performances as they welcome fierce rivals Saracens Amateurs to Cotlandswick next Saturday where they will look to get their season up and running.

Vees: Graham, Rigby, John, Katz, Wildey, Turner, D Westhead (C), Luxford, J Wooley, Crowne, Grimer, Kambouris, Bate, Sabato, A Westhead. Reps: Moralee, N Wooley, Hollister.