Verulamians hold off Hackney challenge to close in on top three spot

Vees record impressive win

Herts/Middlesex One

Verulamians 16 Hackney 10

AFTER a strong professional performance in their away win at Old Priorians the week before Verulamians welcomed Hackney to Cotlandswick at the weekend.

Vees players appeared determined as they took to the field, however, the visitors caught the hosts’ cold and took the lead with a try right from the kick off. With the visitors taking an immediate seven point lead it was important that the Vees responded quickly to the early try.

Hackney had other ideas however and looked to capitalise on their momentum and launched a wave of attacks against the Vees defensive line. This time however the home side tackled well and kept the visitors at bay.

When the Vees forwards forced a turnover full-back Ricci was given the chance to run the ball back and made a clean break down the wing. The ball was moved into midfield as first Atkins and then Coyle made a surge for the line but just as the Vees looked to restore the balance Coyle pulled up a few metres out with an injury.

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The game continued with a scrum five metres out and after No. 8 Luxford drove from the base of the scrum the Vees were rewarded with a penalty in front of the posts and Crowne took the three points with ease.

Vees starved Hackney of first phase possession from the scrum and despite the abysmal start Vees had scrapped and fought their way back into the game by half-time.

After the break Vees were awarded a penalty which Crowne kicked to narrow the visitors score to just one point.

Yet the home side failed to take the restart cleanly and were immediately put under pressure as the visitors flew forward. Eventually Hackney were awarded a penalty and extended their lead to four points.

With the Vees looking to close the gap once more they looked to the boot to gain a platform to launch an attack.

Both Crowne and Ricci kicked well to the corners and a keen chase from wingers Waters and Chopin kept the visitors pegged back. It was from this accurate kicking that Verulamians were able to score their first try.

When Chopin hunted down a long range kick the Hackney fly half spilt the ball and from the resulting scrum the Vees unleashed a training ground move. Luxford picked from the base and fed the ball to scrum-half Rees who switched play with a swift pass. After some crisp handling Waters was released down the wing and finished well in the corner. Crowne missed the difficult conversion but the Vees were now in front.

The game continued to ebb and flow with both sides looking for a victory.

The breakthrough came when Vees captain Rees led by example and made a dart close to the ruck. After several phases Atkins released Ricci who sped in to score. Unfortunately Crowne missed the conversion but the Vees had opened up a crucial six point lead.

Hackney looked to strike at the death but and they were handed one last opportunity when the home team gave away a penalty on half way. The visitors kicked themselves into the Verulamians 22 but were robbed of a final chance to claim victory as lock Nichols rose first to steal the lineout ball and seal an impressive home win.

Vees: Trojans, S Crowne, Bloomfield, Nichols, Wildey, Coyle, Morgan, Luxford, Rees, T Crowne, Waters, Atkins, Westhead, Chopin, Ricci. Reps: Richmond, Buss.