Hendon captain: Final day of the promotion fight is just as exciting as the Six Nations

Hendon captain Ger O'Donoghue. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hendon captain Ger O'Donoghue. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Hendon captain Ger O’Donoghue says the final day of the Herts/Middlesex Division Two promotion battle is similarly enthralling to the dramatic climax of the Six Nations.

Ireland pipped England and Wales to the title on points difference in March, finishing just six points better off than the Red Rose, who narrowly failed to score what could have been a decisive last-minute try against France.

Similarly, Hendon go into Saturday’s finale sitting level with promotion rivals London French, who currently occupy the second promotion spot because they are 35 points better off on points difference.

However, the final-day fixtures favour the Dons. They visit sixth-placed Watford, while French are away against champions Hillingdon Abbots, who have scored an average of 44 points per game against the other top-six sides.

“It’s a really exciting finish, especially considering our team is made up of Irish, English and Welsh lads and the way the Six Nations ended,” O’Donoghue told Ham&High Sport. “We all watched that together, there was good banter that day.

“It’s kind of a similar scenario this weekend, with the fact that it might come down to points difference. I’ll always take winning a game first but at some stage, if we’re winning, we’re probably going to have to cut loose a bit to get the bonus point and try to overturn the difference.

“Part of me is worried that Hillingdon Abbots have won the league so they don’t have to do any more. The other part of me says the only team that beat them this year was London French, so you hope they’ll want to finish the season having beaten everyone.

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“As much as you don’t want to look at what they’re doing, you kind of do. I’m concentrating more on Watford but now and then it’s on my mind, wondering about that game. It is quite interesting.

“All the games are on at the same time but if they weren’t I think I’d be going to Hillingdon!

“I’m sure we will talk about sending someone from the club to that game. But we have contact numbers for Hillingdon so I expect we’ll be waiting in a huddle after the game and someone will call them. There will either be some very disappointed lads or some very happy lads.

“But we still have to do our own job and Watford won’t be walkovers. They’ve got a big pack and the last time we played them, at Allianz Park, it was only in the last 10 to 15 minutes that we put the game to bed and got the bonus point. We won’t be taking them lightly at all.”

O’Donoghue added: “I’ve got to make sure we play our own game and not go crazy to begin with, trying to run from inside our own 10 or 15m. To be honest, we’ve done a bit too much of that this season, trying to play too much from inside our own half.

“I’ve got to concentrate on making sure the lads know that we have to stick to our own game plan, which has worked for us in the big games this year that we’ve won – just play for territory and get up there without having to run our legs off. It’s about keeping everyone grounded and making sure everyone’s singing from the same hymn sheet.

“I did think we’d be there or thereabouts this season. We’ve changed a lot of our players from last year and picked up one or two good ones. It’s all about the players you get in in pre-season because there is a lot of chopping and changing in our club – I suppose because of the Irish link.

“It is a bit nerve-wracking now but I much prefer where we are at the moment to being fifth or sixth. It’s not a shock that we’re on the cusp of promotion and I hoped we’d be there already, but it’s one of those things.”