Hertford 26 12 Cuffley 1st
Cuffley firsts played their first proper league game of the season after two walk overs. Hertford fielded a very strong experienced team on their own patch and started the match far more switched on than our boys, with their first visit into our 22 resulting in a converted try, even though the ref missed a blatant obstruction through the midfield.
Having stepped up another level this season the pace of the home side caught Cuffley by surprise; fortunately we regrouped and showed we are good enough to play in this league. We fought our way back into the game, our scrum took a couple of set pieces to settle down but they showed their spirit and the scrums had parity for the rest of the game. Our line out worked well with Covey and Pete supplying good ball.
With both first choice scrum half's away we drafted in Michael Davis back at the club and thrown into the fray after 8 years out of competitive rugby. Michael hasn't lost any of his determination and dogged spirit, but soon realised the game has changed a bit and wiping your studs on a man even offside is frowned upon (more's the pity).
He linked well with Will Payne at 10 and we started to get some go forward ball, our new centre partnership of Adam Roberts and Ross Clayton started to push harder and close down the Hertford backs. Our kick and chase was strong with wings Dom Thurlow and Jack Hamilton supported by Matt Deamer using their pace to put the home side on the back foot. Cuffley levelled the score from such pressure finished by Ross and with Jack adding the conversion, 7 points all, the game was now at stalemate with the referee coming far more of a hindrance to the game than helping.
Half Time 7-7
The second half was far from enjoyable, both sides wanted to play rugby but what seemed like the official's own agenda it was ruined for both teams as well as the few spectators.
Hertford with the more experienced players probably coped with things a bit better, they scored from open play to make it 14-7. Unfortunately as we charged the attempted conversion the ref sin binned Michael for supposedly making contact with the kicker.
Now with Cuffley down to 14 men for 10 minutes we started to force Hertford back from another kick and chase Dom collected a fine pass from Ross to score his first Cuffley try 14-14.
Again the referee was over officious breaking any continuity in both teams game, Hertford's next score was of our own making. With a man down we defended with a flat line, their 10 spotted this and chipped over, with no full back it was an easy score 19-12.
Back to full strength and still in the game we forced Hertford back to their line, enter the ref again, we forced their winger to field the ball over the try line then drove him out of play. This should have been a scrum 5, no such luck the ref gave a 22 drop out, with time running out again we found ourselves on their line. With a lineout 5 meters out we looked good to at least draw the game, but again the official made an appalling decision, giving Hertford the chance to clear their lines. This broke our resolve and the home team crashed over on the final whistle to win 26-12, if ever there was a game we should and could have won this was it. I don't normally berate the referee, but on this occasion he managed to ruin this match.
We look forward to the rematch and hopefully a half decent official.