A HAPPY NEW YEAR START
Report by Graham Pratt
The New Year started on a successful note with a hard-fought victory over a good H.A.C outfit at Chiswick. Rochford finished well in the end with a bonus point win, but they had to work for it.
The match was a real challenge for the boys in black as they had to overcome a red card for Jodie Allen and later losing scrum half Steven Jay with a head injury.
However, after a testing first half Rochford’s class and power prevailed and they finished worthy winners on this dull afternoon at Dukes Meadows.
H.A.C. are no slouches and they came off the blocks looking for an early score putting enormous pressure on the visitor’s defence and were rewarded with two well struck penalties in quick concession.
Rochford struck back with some fast back play finished off by the elusive running of centre Iain Meads who sped over the line for a try. Cameron Greenhall added the extra two points and the Essex lads took the lead.
The home side continued to press but Rochford, although not playing at their best, held on and began to use their powerful forward base to dictate matters and drove H.A.C back to their line and captain Harry Hudson crashed over to score and the Greenhall conversion now put them 14 – 6 ahead.
Once again, the regiment side struck back with a penalty kick before big second row Sam Fombo added another five points with a good try.
The kicking boot of the opposition’s number 10 struck again to take the score line to 19 – 12 at half time.
With the loss of Allen and playing with 14 men together with the injury to Jay the side needed the break to reorganise which they did extremely well and showed that strength of character and grit which good sides have.
mark billings had moved into scrum half position from full back and paraded those all-round skills that makes him such an asset to the team. New signing Chris Dudman came in at full back but H.A.C. kept up the pressure early in the second session to take advantage of their extra man and saw the home side winger run in for a try and an excellent kick from far out added the extra two points to bring the score level at 19 – 19.
That was as it got for them as Rochford knuckled down and using their strong forward base forced the opposition back onto their line and, once again, Hudson crashed through to score the bonus point try. Greenhall converted and Rochford’s strength and confidence showed through in spite of being a player down.
Soon after Harry Hudson went over for his hat trick and Greenhall added the two points and a period of good link play between forwards and backs followed and a splendid individual effort by Billings was the icing on the cake.
Rochford kept up the power play right until the final whistle and could have scored another try if they had been just a little bit more clinical.
Having said that, and showing they are not quite back into the swing of things following the Christmas break, it was a well taken win under difficult conditions.
Credit to H.A.C who have proven over the two matches played between the sides that they are a strong outfit and have scored more points (46) against us in both games than all other teams so far. The team will be making sure that it stays that way.
There are some areas to look at, particularly the penalty count against them on Saturday, but a home game against Fullerians next week will be the ideal time to get back into a rhythm again.