UCS Old Boys make a winning start to life in their new league

Joe Crossman on his way to the try-line for UCS Old Boys. Pic: Nick Cook

Joe Crossman on his way to the try-line for UCS Old Boys. Pic: Nick Cook - Credit: Archant

UCS Old Boys made a winning start to life in Herts/Middlesex Division One following their second successive relegation, earning a 32-24 home win over Verulamians in an entertaining, see-saw encounter.

Elliot Duke, Joe Crossman and Dan Stewart all crossed the line for the hosts, while Stewart added two late penalties to deny the visitors a losing bonus point.

UCS broke the deadlock with a Stewart penalty and, although Verulamians’ Casey Lynch scored the first try – which was converted by Gareth Watters – the Old Boys swiftly regained their lead.

Alexander Klimov intercepted a pass and, while he was hauled down inside the opposition’s 22, Duke crashed through the centre soon afterwards to put UCS 10-7 up.

Verulamians forced their way over the line with a driving maul and, although UCS somehow held the ball up, the visitors’ forwards rumbled over again, with Michael Hollister grounding the ball and Watters adding the extras.

However, the Old Boys got their noses back in front before the interval, securing an attacking line-out and moving the ball to the right and then back to the left flank, where Crossman went over to give the hosts a 15-14 half-time advantage.

Verulamians landed the next blow with Mike Kinsworth going over for a converted try, and the sides then traded penalties, with one for the visitors and two from Stewart.

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UCS lost Stefan Filip to a broken nose but their pack was bolstered by fresh legs – and they regained the lead when Duke caught a clearance kick, beat five men and off-loaded to Stewart, who touched down to put the Old Boys 26-24 up.

Ill-discipline from Verulamians then helped them to see out the game. Stewart kicked a penalty and UCS were awarded another one in the final seconds.

While an attacking linout could have produced a fourth try and a bonus point, the referee indicated there was no time, so Stewart took the three points that denied Verulamians a bonus point of their own.