Hendon bloom in regional final of RFU Junior Vase to claim their ‘greatest victory’
- Credit: David Simpson/TGS Photo
Hendon claimed their ‘greatest victory’ when beating Cranbrook 27-22 in the London & South East final of the RFU Junior Vase at Allianz Park on Saturday.
The runaway Herts Middlesex One leaders showed great spirit and determination to beat the well-drilled Kent club in their toughest match of the season and book a semi-final date with South West champions Old Cryptians of Gloucester.
The winners of that tie will contest the final at Twickenham, but the RFU moved to suspend all rugby activity this week due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Club president David Gershlick said: “This is the greatest victory Hendon have ever achieved in a competition. I must congratulate our captain Cian Hynes and his first-team squad and without doubt our coach Phil Smith.
“Since joining in just two seasons ‘Smudger’ has masterminded our success with his weekly coaching and training session in Allianz Park and the touchline management on match days which is borne out with the club’s current top of the table position.”
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Smith added: “I couldn’t pick a man of the match as all the boys played their part in attack by taking every opportunity and scoring four tries whilst in defence to keep Cranbrook down to two tries that gave them the best possible advantage to win this great game.”
Cranbrook kicked an early penalty to open the scoring, but Hendon hit back as Rob Casey and Chris Kiyingi combined for Toby Ikwueke to finish in the corner.
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Hynes converted from the touchline and was on target again after Junior Farao went over from a maul when Dan Watterson was stopped short to make it 14-3.
Cranbrook touched down in the corner after a defensive error then saw a long pass send a winger over to cut the gap to one point and a penalty put them ahead.
Hynes took a quick penalty early in the second half for Jake Dunne and Ronan Jones to carry towards the line, before scrum-half Billy Burrell dived over to make it 19-16.
Rossa Dooley set up the next attack, with TJ O’Sullivan breaking clear for the fourth Hendon try and an eight-point lead, but Cranbrook rallied to kick two more penalties as Hendon’s defensive line held firm.
Casey was stopped as he tried to break through, after Luke Pollard set up the chance, and Robby Burrell had a try disallowed after a kick over the top from Hynes.
A penalty five minutes from time from Hynes gave Hendon breathing space, though, and they held out under late pressure to claim the silverware from London’s director of competitions David Williams.