Hendon suffer narrow loss but bag valuable points against Royston

Hendon players celebrate the victory after Hendon RFC vs Cranbrook RFC, RFU Junior Vase Rugby Union

Hendon players pictured in March 2020 - Credit: David Simpson/TGS Photo

A poor afternoon by Hendon standards allowed Royston to complete a narrow 30-26 win, but the north London still side took home a valuable two points.

Into a strong wind, Hendon battled with the elements in the opening 20 minutes, allowing Royston to take advantage with long kicks to the visitors 22, giving them attacking options to go two tries up at 12-0.

Tactics dictated that Hendon must keep the ball in hand as the forwards drove into the wind, releasing Will Thacker on the blindside to crash through the defence to score in the corner. 

Jack Ryan converted to make the score 12-7. Hendon conceded two further scores as an offside was converted by Royston, and then from another long defensive kick. As Hendon’s backline attacked, Royston backs scored to go further ahead.

While the Hendon forwards looked the better team it was Royston who worked the elements to their advantage. 

Into the second half and almost immediately from the Royston restart they were rewarded with a penalty.

Captain Mike Culhane rallied his troops and led by example as Hendon took to the boot with long kicks from Ryan and Dragos Ciocan.

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From the next attacking lineout Rossa Dooley collected to set up a maul from the Royston 22, with Culhane scoring as Hendon forwards pushed over. Ryan scored the conversion to make it 25-14.

Royston returned to outrun the Hendon defence to score in the corner, and with the score now at 30-14, it seemed a bridge too far to come back from.

Into the last period of the match it was all Hendon, with Culhane scoring his second try in the corner after a backrow move from TJ O’Sullivan and Dooley made it 30-19.

With seven minutes remaining Hendon drove through the Royston defence and again Culhane dropped to score with Ciocan converting for 30-26.

Could Hendon pull it off as the referee called last play with Hendon winning a 5-metre scrum to push for the line?

After a number of attempts O’Sullivan found his way over the tryline but was held up by the excellent Royston defence, denied the visitors a last-gasp win. Despite the defeat, Hendon still collected two league points.

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