Shelford defence stands firm in victory over Hertford
PUBLISHED: 19:38 18 February 2017 | UPDATED: 20:21 18 February 2017
Nail-biting win for the hosts at the Davey Field
The perfect blend of attack and defence helped Shelford to a 26-22 win over Hertford in National League Three, London & SE.
It was compelling viewing at the Davey Field as the hosts clinched their first win over one of the division’s top four this season, and it was a game that was there for either side to take until the final minute.
The best way to describe the game from a Shelford perspective would be a defensive sandwich – they had long periods keeping Hertford out in the first half and then had to do the same in the last five minutes.
But in between they produced some flowing rugby that had their opponents stretched beyond their means.
And there were some big performances from the hosts, with Mike Gillick showing his flexibility in the backs and proving a key voice in communicating with all those around him, while Matt Gregerson put in a sterling effort at tight-head prop.
With no quarter spared at the set piece, Gregerson was the cornerstone and he matched it with an all-action display in the loose, both at the breakdown and with his ball carrying, and was deservedly named the Shelford’s man of the match.
Ultimately, it was the defence that probably earned them victory though, and that was after first putting their supporters through the mill.
In the first half an hour they could not get out of their own half, with Hertford dictating play to enjoy all the territory and possession and Luke Sloan running the show for them in the backs.
However, despite that dominance they could not get past the Shelford defence as the organisation, the scramble and the competitive nature at the breakdown made the hosts almost impossible to get through.
Yet, they were being punished by ill-discipline, giving away costly penalties in and around the 22 that Ben Lloyd was able to slot over at ease for the visitors.
This flaw from Shelford had allowed Hertford to build up a 12-0 lead after 35 minutes, but then the Peacock cavalry charge arrived.
In virtually their first phase of play with ball in hand, they kept it alive to move possession along the line for Jamie Beswick to off-load to Tuli Paea on the wing for the Tongan to race away and score.
And in their next flowing move, they again kept the ball alive by working it along the line for captain Richie McIver to this time get the final pass away to Beswick to sprint clear on the same wing to touch down to make it 12-10 at half time.
Simon Hrbek kicked Shelford ahead at the start of the second half, and then got the third try six minutes later as they stretched play across the pitch and back again to the left for the full-back to burst through.
Josh Simmons landed a penalty to make it 23-12, but a poor restart handed the momentum to Hertford and a number of phases later, Jack Mann touched down to reduce the arrears.
Charlie Baker was sin-binned for Shelford and a minute later, Rob Macpherson-Smith finished off a flowing move along the line to make it 23-22.
Simmons kicked a penalty to give Shelford a four-point breathing space, but after another poor restart, the visitors piled on the pressure.
It led to Redmond Newberry being sin-binned, but even being a man light, Shelford stood firm with some brilliant defending to see out a 26-22 victory.
Shelford: Hrbek; Koresi, White, Gillick, Paea; Simmons, Baker; Winter, Gardne, Gregerson, Hill, Jackowski, Beswick, McIver, Lea.
Replacements: Reilly, Newberry, Graham.
Hertford: Macpherson-Smith; Creasey, Mann, Sloan, Allan; Lloyd, Sargent; Patton, McNamee, Mole, Hett, Elston, Archer, Corcoran, Belton.
Replacements: Lewis, Joannou, Kelly.
Sin bin: Shelford – Lea (foul play, 23), Baker (technical offence, 68), Newberry (technical offence, 80+2); Hertford – Elston (technical offence, 59).
Scorers: 8min Lloyd pen (0-3), 18 Lloyd pen (0-6), 24 Lloyd pen (0-9), 35 Lloyd pen (0-12), 37 Paea try (5-12), 40+3 Beswick try (10-12), 42 Hrbek pen (13-12), 48 Hrbek try – Simmons con (20-12), 59 Simmons pen (23-12), 64 Mann try (23-17), 69 Macpherson-Smith try (23-22), 78 Simmons pen (26-22).
Referee: Gareth Reed.