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UCS Old Boys, Hendon and Haringey Rhinos suffer home defeats

PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 November 2016

UCS Old Boys (in maroon) battle to repel a drive from the Old Streetonians forwards. Picture: Nick Cook

UCS Old Boys (in maroon) battle to repel a drive from the Old Streetonians forwards. Picture: Nick Cook

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UCS Old Boys, Hendon and Haringey Rhinos all suffered home defeats in the Herts/Middlesex leagues on Saturday.

Division One basement boys UCS were outgunned in the forwards, losing 37-10 to second-placed Old Streetonians despite tries from Tom Loughnan and Nat Breakwell – and Hendon had a similar fate in the same league.

Although Harry Charles touched down and Cian Hynes kicked eight points, they went down 30-13 against Royston.

In Division Two, a try for winger Anthony Ekundayo gave Haringey an early lead against the top side, Old Millhillians, while Gareth Kirk also crossed the whitewash - but the Rhinos were on the wrong end of a 33-17 scoreline.

UCS put in a spirited display with some good attacking rugby but struggled against Old Streetonians’ bigger pack, which crashed over four times in the second half from lineout drives.

The Old Boys started poorly, conceding a try after just one minute, and they found themselves 10-0 down after half an hour.

But five minutes before the break the alert left winger Loughnan intercepted a pass and ran 80m to the line – and the hosts could have gone into the break on level terms as centre Henry Day broke from his own half, only for the attack to peter out.

UCS started the second half in an optimistic mood but their hopes were quickly dashed as three quick tries put the visitors into an unassailable lead, and two more rolling mauls from the lineout left Streetonians 37-5 ahead.

The Old Boys stuck to their task and got over the whitewash at the death, with Day breaking through again, the forwards carrying the ball forward and scrum-half Breakwell sneaking through a gap to touch down – but it was merely a consolation.

Director of rugby Geoff Boxer said: “We play some good attacking rugby at times, and our tackling and competition at the breakdown had great intensity.

“But we are a relatively small pack and, after losing lock Manoj Bahl after five minutes, we could not cope with Streetonians’ powerful forward drives from the lineout. Sometimes a good bigg’un beats a good littl’un.”

Discipline was the problem for Hendon, who played for 20 minutes with only 14 players against fourth-placed Royston.

Like UCS, the Dons conceded a try in the opening seconds and, although they then exchanged penalties with their guests to leave the score 13-6, one of their back-row players was sent to the sin-bin for an illegal tackle and Royston pushed their way over the line to take a 20-6 lead into the break.

Hendon hit back after being restored to full strength, with Charles crossing the whitewash and Hynes converting – and Hynes nearly reached the line again, only to see his pass intercepted.

The home side’s frustration was clear as an ill-advised comment resulted in another player heading to the sin-bin for 10 of the last 15 minutes – and Royston took advantage again by kicking through the undermanned defence and scoring twice in the corner.

Unlike UCS and Hendon, Haringey made a good start in their Division Two clash against league leaders Old Millhillians, with strong interplay between captain Owain Luckwell and hooker Shane Ede setting up a try for winger Ekundayo after five minutes.

But the away team scored two tries late in the first half to take the lead and, although centre Kirk caused the Millhillians defence problems on numerous occasions, he was only able to cross the whitewash once, while Haringey’s opponents got over the line twice more.

It leaves the Rhinos fifth in the table, nine points off the top – but they will be encouraged by their strong defensive work, and flanker Dan Thomas was named their man of the match for his impressive work-rate around the park.

Head coach Craig Sweetlove said: “It was a game of chances - they took theirs and we didn’t. It was a tough, physical game and we lost our structure, which made it harder to create the opportunities to score.

“The players were disappointed after the game and are keen to put it right at training and finish the run-up to Christmas positively.”

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