Letchworth GC 29-20 Harpenden: Christmas diners feast on Legends crackling performance

By The Editor

19th Dec 2023 | Local Sport

Letchworth GC 29-20 Harpenden - Report by Rick Sell. PICTURE: Legends together. CREDIT: Letchworth Rugby Club
Letchworth GC 29-20 Harpenden - Report by Rick Sell. PICTURE: Legends together. CREDIT: Letchworth Rugby Club

Letchworth GC 29-20 Harpenden - Report by Rick Sell 

One hundred diners enjoyed a superb three course Christmas lunch before dragging themselves away from the minced pies to watch what promised to be a Christmas cracker of a game between third placed Letchworth and second placed Harpenden.  It didn't disappoint, with Legends claiming a bonus point win to move above their rivals and spark jubilant celebrations that went on long in to the night.

The opening minutes were a cagey affair with both teams sizing each other up, but it was Letchworth who got on the scoresheet first. After taking a quick tap penalty number 8 Tom Lewis barreled his way in to the opponents half, the ball then going through the hands to fullback Charlie Parkhouse whose burst of pace took him deep in to the red zone. What looked to be a promising attack broke down, but the ref brought play back for an earlier Harpenden infringement and Josh Sharp slotted over the penalty to give Letchworth a 3 – 0 lead with 7 minutes on the clock.

Letchworth continued to apply the pressure and two lineouts deep in Harpenden territory provided good platforms but both were lost on their own throw. From the second a Harpenden kick chase deep in to Letchworth's 22 looked dangerous but Parkhouse was on hand to tidy up. The Letchworth faithfull had further cause for alarm minutes later when highly regarded prop Richard Stokes went down with a knee injury, but a couple of sprays of WD40 did the trick.

Harpenden then had a sustained period of pressure, breaking through the Letchworth defence to get deep in to the red zone. Parkhouse thwarted the attack but illegally according to the ref and received 10 minutes on the naughty step for his troubles. Harpenden kicked to the corner but from the lineout Letchworth's defence held firm and they won a scrum on their own 5m line at which Harpenden were penalised, Sharp clearing with a kick to touch close to the halfway line. But again Letchworth lost the ball on their own throw and Harpenden had the opportunity to attack. But superb defence from Letchworth kept them out, at one point pushing their opponents back from the 5m line to outside the 22.

It wasn't long though before Harpenden were on the attack again, with a penalty kicked to the right corner. From the lineout the ball was spread left and then right but outstanding defensive work by scrum half Harvey Howman won Letchworth a penalty.

It had been some time since Letchworth had possession inside Harpenden's half but when they did they made it count, the ball being spread to the right wing for Kaz Henderson to fight his way over to score in the corner. Sharp just failed with the conversion, and with little over half an hour on the clock it was 8 – 0 to Letchworth.

Harpenden didn't have long to wait to get on the scoreboard though, with Letchworth being penalised right in front of the posts to give their full back Thomas Sweeney an easy kick and Harpenden's first points to make it 8 – 3.

Letchworth came closest to scoring again in the final stages of the first half, playing some superb attacking rugby to break through the Harpenden defence but an offload that would have put left winger Jake Allen away didn't quite go to hand, so it remained 8 – 3 at halftime.

Letchworth didn't have to wait long for their second try when the second half was underway. After winning a lineout in their own half they spread the ball left to Parkhouse who's pace and footwork did the rest, dotting the ball down without a defender able to lay a finger on him for a fine score. Sharp added the extras to make it 15 – 3.

Harpenden were by no means out of this game and had large amounts of possession and territory, with centre James Speirs the catalyst for much of their best attacking play. They were rewarded when Letchworth were penalised for holding on in their own half, Sweeney calming slotting the ball over to make it 15 – 6.

Almost immediately Letchworth extended their lead. Some superb handling put Howman through deep in to Harpenden's 22, and when he was brought down he popped it up for Tom Lewis to crash over just to the right of the posts and a certain seven pointer. 22 – 6 to Letchworth with 10 minutes gone in the second half.

Harpenden had introduced Dominic Ashwell on the left wing and he looked threatening every time he had the ball. When a Letchworth pass went to ground in their own half Harpenden pounced and put Ashwell through to score in the corner, superbly converted by Sweeney to make it 22 – 13.

Letchworth now went on the hunt for their fourth and bonus point try. Sharp kicked a penalty to the right corner and a superb lineout drive was illegally stopped just short of the whitewash, the ref awarding a penalty try to Letchworth and a yellow card to the miscreant. 29 – 13 to Letchworth. 

With two highly competitive sides battling for second spot it was no surprise that some niggle crept in, and Stokes received a yellow for being a little too confrontational at scrum time. The loss of Stokes lead to a sustained period of pressure from Harpenden and allowed them to gain the upper hand in the scrums. Good defence from Letchworth kept them out but eventually the pressure told and flanker Barnaby Merrett went over under the posts and an easy conversion made it 29 – 20.

In the final stages of the game Harpenden continued to apply the pressure, but first Howman and then Sharp tidied up when Harpenden were in the red zone. Try as they might Harpenden could not break down the Letchworth defence in the time that remained, with captain Fitts leading the way with some superb tackling. The final whistle brought jubiliation both on the pitch and the touchline, signifying another famous victory for this Legends team.

Though pleased with the win, Baz Basra re-iterated how important it was for the players to keep their feet on the ground and keep on improving. "The half back pairing of Howman and Sharp were again outstanding" he said, "but my man of the match goes to Tom Lewis who had another colossal game at 8".

There now follows a welcome break for bruised bodies to shed aches and pains before a crunch visit to league leader's Colchester on the first Saturday of the new year …. A hundred years since the foundation . The performance there will provide a true indication as to how far this side has come over the past three months . 

  Team from 1 

  Robinson Heathman Stokes 

  Wilcock. Jones 

  Mongston Fitts Lewis 

  Howman Sharp 

  Allan Titherington Streets Henderson 


 Hughes T Peasnall Gibbs 


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