Match Report
Berkhamsted School 1st XV vs  Haberdashers' Aske's School for Boys
On: Saturday, 22 Nov 2014
Venue: Away

This was an important game in that, with possibly two NatWest U18 Cup matches and two momentous away friendlies v Rugby School and St Paul’s to come before the end of term, we needed to fine-tune our game, and at the same time avoid any significant injuries. For the first half, we handsomely achieved both objectives, but the second half was a disappointingly stuttering performance – partly accountable to the substitution of key players for bigger battles to come – and there was a potentially serious injury to Will Hughes, who had been looking inventive at 10 on the withdrawal of Tom ffitch.

In the first half we rattled up an impressive 31 point lead. After only 2 mins Captain Matt Pugh had gone through a gap only to knock-on a couple of metres short of the line. We took the ensuing scrum against the head and No.8 Ed Tidey crashed over. Tom ffitch converted. 5 minutes later, a long drop-out 22 from ffitch was chased down and the Habs 15 was penalized for holding on. ffitch converted the resulting penalty. After 15 mins Habs had a bit of possession but our aggressive defence kept them going backwards and a desperate pass in midfield was intercepted by ffitch, who converted his own try from in front of the posts (0-17). There followed 15 mins of almost relentless Berkhamsted pressure, but brave defending kept us out, until a line-out was spun left, ffitch dummy-scissored with Alex Brown and hit Scott Duguid on a crash ball under the posts. Again ffitch converted for 0-24. On the stroke of half-time a blind-side overlap left Haberdashers” short-handed. Scott Duguid sold a dummy to score in the corner, with Tom ffitch converting majestically from the touch-line (0-31).

The second half saw Berkhamsted encamped in the Habs’ half for long periods and some high-tempo attacking rugby. Sadly, a number of opportunities went begging for every conceivable reason - poor hands, forward passes, over-vigorous play, poor running lines, over-running, and erratic decision-making. A common error was failure to release faster outside men early enough, but, in fairness to Habs, there was some often brave and intelligent defending, and, cheered on by their old Boys, who were celebrating a reunion of an unbeaten side in the 1970s, they refused to allow themselves to be humiliated. However, two good second-half tries were scored, the second a beauty. The first was by Matt Pugh, who stood off a maul at first receiver and sold an outrageous dummy inside before going over. Tom ffitch coverted for his sixth successful kick out of six before being substituted. The second was a reprise of Timi Sanusi’s try at the Aviva against Haileybury, preceded by a delightful dummy open and deft reverse pass by Will Hughes, to put him through the gap.