Old Millhillians 35 – 10 Mill Hill
The Choccy & Whites returned to the Lane after an impressive win on the road last time out, looking to cement a position towards the summit of Herts/Middlesex 2 against a Mill Hill team who have not enjoyed the best of starts to the league campaign.
Conditions at HQ were pristine once again, and Ralph Murduck, furious at the seemingly relentless aspersions cast upon his handling ability in recent weeks, channelled his anger on the opposition and was heavily involved in the early carries, breaking the line to score the opening try to cap another fast start for the OM’s – an increasingly regular (and welcome) feature this season.
Having nudged ahead and seen a couple of close range driving line-outs expertly repelled by Mill Hill, OM’s opted to scrum-down when awarded a penalty on the 5m line. The resulting series of scrums were frankly exhausting as the pack were made to work hard for superiority up front, but superiority nonetheless came and Robert Gold duly dotted down as the OM 8 rolled relentlessly forward. In the process, Mill Hill lost a player to the bin – and yet another opportunity to put to use the exercise bike which has appeared in the changing rooms was lost as it remained inside.
Having taken the unusual approach of conducting his warm-up on the train from Bath, Oli Avent was straight onto the pitch on his arrival and doubtless his hamstrings were grateful as good work across the back-line saw him clean through to stand up, step and scamper away from the last defender to score under the posts to rapturous acclaim from the balcony. Giddy from lashings of Prosecco, or simply the champagne rugby on show, the crowd cheered raucously despite the missed conversion from in front of the sticks – nevertheless the OM’s were up and running.
The closing stages of the half highlighted another improving facet of the M’s game this season – defence. Mill Hill sniffed an opportunity to get themselves back into the game before the whistle, camped, as they were, on the OM 5 metre line. However, repeated line out drives were fended off, James Davis-Roycroft put his head in places hitherto unknown to all but the bravest scrum-halves (to the detriment of his cheekbone), and tackles flew in from all quarters to leave our try line unbreached and Mill Hill unimpressed.
The second-half was a rather disjointed affair – disrupted as it was with a number of knocks and injuries to both sides, William Gallagher was pressed into action helping to mend the opposition when he wasn’t too busy attempting to tackle them in two. Alongside him, Will Obree and Adam Boxer again worked tirelessly – pinning Mill Hill behind the gain line with aggressive tackling around the fringes and in the loose.
As the half wore on, Mill Hill came back into the game and were rewarded for their tenacity and persistence in what was a spirited display with two tries as a serious comeback briefly threatened. Having weathered the storm, OM’s were able to put the game to bed with two more tries in the closing stages. Will Oliver Flute Samler crossed for his first try in Choccy & White to secure the bonus point after some lovely hands along the length of the back-line before Rob Gold rounded off a fine display, romping home from 60 metres after Greg Walsh broke the line and popped the ball up to the number 8 running an excellent support line.
Old Millhillians 35 – Mill Hill 10
Once again, kudos to the three props who featured in the game and indeed, the pack as a whole – dominating the scrum against a physically bigger pack was a great achievement and enabled to the backs to play on the front foot to great effect, marshalled well by Oli & Giorgio Arricale. Onwards and upwards!