Heartbreak for UCS Old Boys as heroic fightback ends in a late defeat

From right: UCS's Tom McAlvey (carrying ball), Tom McAviney and captain James Boyde all touched down

From right: UCS's Tom McAlvey (carrying ball), Tom McAviney and captain James Boyde all touched down for the Old Boys. Pic: Nick Cook/UCS Old Boys RFC - Credit: Archant

UCS overturned a 19-point deficit to take the lead in their basement battle at Hemel Hempstead – only to concede a killer try three minutes from time and lose 41-38 in London Division Two North-West.

The Old Boys trailed 36-17 in the second half but staged a heroic comeback as Tom McAviney, Dom Rollo-Walker and captain James Boyde scored three unanswered tries.

That left the visitors with a slender 38-36 advantage in the final moments – and they were on the front foot with an attacking line-out.

However, a dramatic failure at the set piece allowed Hemel to turn the ball over, kick over the top of the defence and score in the corner – leaving UCS with the consolation of two bonus points for scoring four tries and losing by such a slender margin.

The two sides occupied the bottom two places in the league before the kick-off, and UCS got off to a poor start by conceding a cheap penalty and then the opening try.

Tom McAlvey hit back for the Old Boys, powering over the line, and the visitors nearly scored again as Daniel Sleath burst through a gap.

However, the ball was turned over five metres shy of the line and the resulting counter-attack ended in a converted score for Hemel at the other end, giving the home side a 22-17 lead at the break.

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UCS started the second half badly as well, shipping 14 soft points very quickly – but, rather than folding, they bravely rallied and dominated most of the second half.

The Old Boys were initally unable to covert their chances but McAviney made the breakthrough, taking a quick penalty and running in under the posts.

Then, after securing quick ball, the visitors moved the ball to Rollo-Walker, who beat two covering defenders to finish in the corner, and Dave O’Dwyer was stopped just short after a break down the right.

UCS continued to hammer the line for a series of phases and Boyde managed to get over the line to level the scores, while Alex Lowe’s successful conversion gave his side a two-point lead with 15 minutes left.

The Old Boys retained the ball well, keeping the game inside the Hemel half – and with just three minutes left they looked more likely to score than concede after winning an attacking line-out on the five-metre line.

However, disaster struck and a breakway try condemned them to a defeat which leaves them winless and bottom of the table.