Hertfordshire young guns too hot to handle for Eastern Counties

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Hertfordshire Stags had a comfortable 38-5 win over their Eastern Counties counterparts at Tabard RFC on Sunday in the second pool match of the RFU National U20 Championship.

As a result they top the pool, unbeaten, with the final match away to Kent on March 13.

The Stags scored an early converted try and thereafter took control of the game.

The home forwards had the better of the scrum and line out exchanges and dominated the loose play.

In broken play a number of Stags players caught the eye and in particular full-back Tim Bitirim and No 8 James Thacker made a number of telling breaks.

However the cold cross wind did not help the handling skills and the game was rather disjointed.

Continuity was not helped either by the fact that neither side came to terms with the refereeing of the breakdown, which resulted in numerous penalties and four yellow cards - Eastern Counties receiving three of them at various stages of the game.

After a scrappy opening few minutes, Eastern Counties conceded the first of the many penalties.

The Stags kicked for a lineout 5 metres out, caught & drove, and scrum half Alex Patton touched down for the opening try, which was converted by Bitirim.

After 10 minutes of play, Eastern Counties received their first yellow card and the Stags cashed in immediately. Another 5 metre line out resulted in a catch and drive and this time flanker Zach Scott-Grey scored, with Bitirim again adding the conversion.

Play continued to be a bit disjointed, but midway through the half Eastern Counties set up a line out 10 metres from the Stags line. Although they won the ball, Stags skipper Scott Glynn intercepted and together with wing Julian Manieson they took play deep into Counties’ territory.

There the Stags won a scrum against the head and Manieson scored wide out following a chip kick through. There was no further scoring in the half so at the break the Stags led 19-nil.

Following the restart the Stags wasted no time in extending their lead. Thacker made a break from the kick-off, Eastern Counties conceded a free-kick at a line out and after an interchange between forwards and backs, full-back Bitirim scored wide out.

The Stags continued to press and went near to scoring a couple of times before Thacker touched down from a good 5 metre scrum drive. Replacement fly-half Brandon Bowden added the extras.

Midway through the half, Eastern Counties made their first serious incursion of the half into Stags territory.

This time it was the Stags’ turn to be yellow carded, and when Counties ran the ball from the subsequent line out, full-back Aaron Forrest entered the line and scored an unconverted try.

The Stags had the last word when, on the stroke of full-time, prop Michael Bond crashed over for a try converted by Bowden, to seal a fine 38-5 victory.

The final Pool match against Kent will be played at Cranbrook RFC, kick off 2.00 pm.