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Promising start as rugby club looks to the future

By Tony Hope at Castle Fields on Monday, 28th February 2011.

FRIENDLY: Haverhill 32 Halstead Templars 5. Match report.

On a day more suited to watching ducks on the pond, Haverhill’s first friendly match since they had to drop out of the Eastern Counties League Division One saw them take on a brand new side Halstead Templars.

This side has been put together by a number of players who live in the town but were fed up travelling to Braintree, Sudbury or Colchester to play their rugby.

With the Haverhill first team pitch under water, the match was played on the second team pitch which was in exceptional condition.

Haverhill skipper Gavin Hope had put out the message for players for the match, and some 27 players turned up looking for a game. With six players also unavailable through injury, things look a bit better for the future.

The idea was to play as many players as possible with roll-on, roll-off cameos, but this changed to one major change at half-time.

The first half started brightly with Martin Ransome catching the kick-off and returning the ball into the Halstead half to see his pass go to Holland and then the returning Anderson.

The ensuing ruck was won and Hope at fly half released his backs to make inroads into the visitors' defence, allowing Anderson to slide over the line for the first score.

This was to set the play for the rest of the first half with Haverhill attacking either through close play from the forwards or the ball going wide to the wingers.

The second score came from Joe Brown who danced his way over the line after forwards and backs combined to give the opportunity. With no goal kicker in the team the conversions were to no avail.

With the bit between their teeth, Haverhill were putting pressure on the visitors, who were giving away quite a few penalties. Haverhill were at times a bit guilty of trying to over-complicate things when a good pass or drive would have sufficed.

The next score came from some good driving play from the forwards and when the ball was released, it was the skipper Hope who broke the defence to slip the ball to Brown to score his second try of the day.

Halstead, to be fair to them, were making this match a great game to watch as they had a couple of opportunities to get deep in the Haverhill half, but the defence held well and at the turnover returned the ball with great effect.

It was from one of theses counters that the next score came, with McDonough breaking out of defence. His pass to Cooper saw the forwards drive up the middle and then quick hands from Hope, Gibson and Brown released Patrick to score a fine try wide out making the score 20-0.

Halstead had their best part of the game with eight minutes to go to half-time when their huge inside centre crossed the line to score close to the posts to make the score at the break 20-5.

With eight changes at the break and players moving around in different positions, it took a good 15 minutes for the home side to settle back down into a pattern of play and in this time Halstead were putting Haverhill under pressure, but Haverhill just soaked this up like a sponge.

With so many changes it was going to be a hard last 20 minutes, but the home side stuck to the task and some consistent pressure on the visitors' line saw Holland dive under a large mêlée of players to score, Ewens converting for the extra points.

This seemed to spur Haverhill on and Potter in the centre position ran straight and direct to score the final try when he received the ball on the try line and only had to belly flop over the line.

Haverhill won this match with so many players turning up that hopefully this will carry on for the rest of the season. Halstead can take great things out of this as they will be quite a force in the future.

Haverhill Online News

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