False start for UCS Old Boys and Hendon as derby duel turns into a friendly encounter

Will Jones (centre) touched down twice for UCS Old Boys in Saturday's friendly against Hendon. Pic:

Will Jones (centre) touched down twice for UCS Old Boys in Saturday's friendly against Hendon. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

There was a false start for UCS Old Boys and Hendon in Herts/Middlesex Division One as their derby duel was postponed due to an administrative error, resulting in the sides playing a friendly instead.

The appointed referee was replaced on Friday night, and the new official was not informed that the game had been switched from Hendon’s ground to UCS’s home back in August.

With traffic delaying his arrival even further, the Old Boys’ director of rugby Geoff Boxer oversaw the first half of a friendly match, while the referee arrived at 4pm to perform his role for the second period.

UCS ultimately overcame their newly-promoted visitors 19-10 – and Boxer was happy with his side’s performance in the warm-up match.

“Given that people thought they were going to play a league match, the intensity was there so it was played like a league match,” he told Ham&High Sport. “I don’t think anybody switched off.

“The intensity from both sides was terrific and actually defence was probably the winner on the day.

“We still think there’s lots to work on in our game, even though we won it, so we feel we’re in a good place – and we had two other very good wins at the club. Our three sides all won on Saturday.

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“Hendon look very competitive. Their tackling was very good and they had two or three influential players. They had a very good No7 and 10 so I think they will tend to shape their game around key individuals in particular positions.”

With the fixture set to be replayed on the first possible weekend, player availability could be an issue when the teams meet again for real.

But Boxer said: “My guess is that everyone will be keen to play in the game again and we’ve got reasonable strength in depth, we hope.”

Hendon took the lead as John McCarthy went over in the corner but Will Jones replied in kind and Lloyd Hughes’ conversion gave UCS a 7-5 lead at the break.

Jones then scored again and Gwyn Edwards extended the lead to 19-5, pouncing on the ball in the in-goal area. Hendon dominated the last 20 minutes and captain Cian Hynes went over himself, but it was too late for a comeback.