Match Report
Berkhamsted School 1st XV vs  Harrow School
On: Saturday, 08 Sep 2018
Venue: Away

What a start to the season, Harrow away! It is testament to how far Rugby at Berkhamsted has come in the past 6 years that the opening fixture of the season was against a school with the reputation of Harrow and, although the 1st XV will be bitterly disappointed with the result, they should be very proud of the character they showed and their performance.

Following a fantastic tour to South Africa and a tough pre-season the 1st XV couldn't wait for the opening fixture and, despite a few injuries to key personnel, there was an air of confidence. A nervous start, however, meant that the opening exchanges were littered with errors but full of intensity. A missed kick to touch from Berkhamsted was the catalyst for the hosts opening try and four phases later (and the odd missed tackle) Harrow had returned the ball to the Berkhamsted half and scored the opening try in the corner. A fabulous conversion followed (0 - 7). Berkhamsted were not without possession or territory and made numerous line breaks and look dangerous in attack. They were, however, guilty of over-playing at times and lacked patience in attack. A second Harrow try came after an extended period of pressure in the visitors 22 (0 -12) and the hosts looked dangerous and might have extended their lead if it wasn't for some excellent last ditched tackles and excellent defence. Berkhamsted had the chance to put three points on the board and make the HT score 3 -12 but failed to convert. HT score 0-12.

The second half started with a superb re-gathering of the ball from the re-start (there were three occasions this happened in the match) and a promising attack from Berkhamsted. However, as with the first half Berkhamsted tried to force the play and were turned over and it was once again Harrow who took the initiative and score their third try to extend the lead following quick ball and some aggressive ball carrying down the right (0-19). Many might have written off Berkhamsted at this point but to their credit they showed great determination and fight and took on board the tactics and feedback discussed at the interval. A well taken drop goal from the captain started the ball rolling and a well worked try down the left-hand side following an off-load in mid-field and quick ball made the score 10-17. Perhaps the most critical moment of the game followed from the re-start. Berkhamsted failed to deal with a sliced kick and a fumbled catch followed by a chaotic ruck resulted in the ball being passed to a prop rather than the fly half and the knock on that followed ended up in the Harrow fly half’s hands who waltzed in under the posts to score what would prove to be the decisive score (10 – 24) on 62 minutes. Testament to this group of players one thing they have got is ‘ticker’ and in their minds, despite the mistake, this game wasn’t over. They charged the kick down, re-gathered their own kick off (again) and worked their way towards the Harrow line with patient build up and great support play before the captain powered himself over from short range before kicking the conversion (17-24) – what a fight back.

Unfortunately, time had all but elapsed and despite their best efforts there was only time for Harrow to earn themselves one final penalty which they kicked to secure the win. Great credit to Harrow who look like an excellent team and will do very well this season I am sure. Berkhamsted will build on this performance and work hard following the defeat. Berkhamsted’s toughest ever fixture card means there is no ‘rest for the wicked’ and they entertain Eton at Chesham Road on the first outing on the new pitch next Saturday. We all look forward to what promises to be a fantastic occasion.

Mr D. J. Gibson (Director of Boys’ Sport)