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Old Millhillians 2nd XV vs Hitchin at Headstone Lane

Hitchin visited Headstone Lane on the back of a string of victories expecting another win. Their dominant pack put a huge amount of pressure on our relatively small set of forwards which included a fresh batch of gap students from Belmont and Mill Hill and Adam Boxer (Weymouth) who was awarded the OM’s goblet at the schools rugby dinner at the end of the autumn term.

The OM’s backs were able to exert some early pressure and two early scores one from try machine Philippe Hadjisymeou (Murray) put us in the driving seat. The Hitchin forwards who had a much larger average weight and age and who were relishing the challenge of our younger and smaller forwards scored three tries using the rolling maul and the scrum. The young Gap Students battled bravely in the scrum but spent much of the time going backwards which put a huge amount of pressure on the scrum halves David Cohen(Murray) and then in the second half Marc Montague (Ridgeway).

The game see sawed with tries being traded throughout the game. The OM’s backs taking their chances when they came and the Hitchin forwards rolling menacingly towards the OM’s try line.  With fifteen to go and the referee playing what seemed to be an eternity Hitchin’s forwards gave one last big push and enabled them to go two scores and 8 points clear. Charlie Vicary (Weymouth) at inside centre scored a fantastic solo try from a great pass from Monaghan putting us back in the game and finally the older and much larger Hitchin side seemed to be tiring.

With five minutes to go we were one point down with Vicary’s try successfully converted. Fly half and Captain Jamie Monaghan (Housemaster of School House) had sensed Hitchin were tiring and having suddenly noticed that Hitchin’s full back had been replaced with a reserve second row forward consulted the backs and issued a long kick game plan for the last five minutes. With youth and fitness on our side it was surely our only hope with the Hitchin forwards rumbling towards our try line again.

Marc Montague under enormous pressure got the ball out of the scrum, one of only three scrums won in the entire game, and passed to Monaghan who from inside our 22 kicked very long. The second row come full back was woefully out of position and the ball sailed over his head with our backs and back row in full pursuit. The bounce of the ball was kind and rolled kindly into the Hitchin 22 where the second row full back was beaten to the ball but managed to put in a tackle on the chasing pack. The ball was laid back and Jonathan Harris (Weymouth) picked up the ball and scored to make it a four point lead at 45-41 with only a few minutes to go.

We knew the last few minutes were to be torrid and a clean catch was vital. Max Coupe King (Priestley) caught the kick off but sliced his clearance to give Hitchin a line out in our 22 with one minute to go. Some great tackling by the forwards forced Hitchin to send the ball wide where the backs tackled well and forced an error. The ball came to Philippe H who thumped it into touch and the final whistle blew.

It had been one of those awesome afternoons at Headstone Lane the weekend would be complete with a bath and a beer awaiting in the clubhouse!

Jamie Monaghan (Capt.)

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