Points deduction leaves UCS Old Boys adrift at the bottom

UCS's James Boyde scored in Saturday's defeat at Harpenden. Pic: Nick Cook/UCS Old Boys RFC

UCS's James Boyde scored in Saturday's defeat at Harpenden. Pic: Nick Cook/UCS Old Boys RFC - Credit: Archant

UCS Old Boys have been dealt a hefty blow in their battle to avoid relegation after a 10-point deduction left them 16 points adrift at the bottom of London Division Two North-West.

The Old Boys have lost all of their 11 fixtures this season - their losing run continued on Saturday as they went down 38-19 away at Harpenden – and their plight has not been helped by an accidental breach of league rules.

A club statement read: “Due to an administrative error, an unregistered player was played in two games.

“As soon as the club realised the mistake we informed the RFU, and following their investigation they subsequently docked us 10 points.

“The club have always had a policy of complete adherence to the laws and admitting our mistakes.”

Club chairman Gideon Bard added: “Despite what has been a tough season for the first XV, we have remained spirited and competitive in all of our games against high-quality opposition – and played some very good rugby. It is a credit to the resilience of the players.

“We have had much success as a club over the last 10 years, but are currently in a period of change, and our young side will develop and mature over the next couple of years.

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“If we are relegated, I am certain that we can bounce back at the first attempt. The club is running three sides and is looking forward to seeing if we can turn around our fortunes in the second half of the season.”

Saturday’s game at Harpenden started with a high intensity and a fast pace that didn’t slow up throughout the 80 minutes.

A passage of strong running and good ball retention from the home side saw them score early under the posts, but the Old Boys responded well and, after an effective catch-and-drive move from the line-out, James May picked a good line and crashed over.

Harpenden mixed big runners in midfield with expansive strike moves to exploit the wide pitch, and they got another two converted scores before half-time.

UCS trailed 21-7, but they started the second period well and, after turning the ball over, thickset full-back Adam Davidson made an explosive break, side-stepping three players before being pulled down a metre short. A cynical effort to slow the ball down then gave Old Boys a penalty and saw Harpenden reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes.

UCS opted for a scrum and a commanding eight-man effort drove the Harpenden pack over their own line, giving No8 James Boyde an easy opportunity to dot down, while Tom McAviney converted to narrow the deficit to 21-14.

This only galvanised Harpenden, who increased the pace of the game, but the Old Boys managed to resist and shared possession and territory with their hosts for much of the second half.

Harpenden eventually broke free and scored in the corner to add to their lead, but UCS responded as Adam Davidson fixed his defender and put Tom Loughnan in space down the right-hand side.

Getting in behind the defence, Loughnan offloaded out of the tackle and, when the ball was recycled quickly, Dan Sleath finished athletically in the corner.

Unfortunately back row Damir Jovanovic was then sent to the sin-bin, and a lack of fitness took its toll on the Old Boys, who became increasingly stretched and were ultimately unable to hold out.

The home side scored a couple of tries late on to run away with the game – and they were deserving winners. However, the score-line was probably not a just reflection of the difference between the sides.