Stags Down Rhinos
By Martin Lee
Watford recorded their second bonus point win in a row with an emphatic 33-0 victory away at Haringey Rhinos.
Whilst many amongst the Watford playing squad welcomed the incessant rain and the subsequent softening of the playing surface, conditions were miserable for the hardy souls who travelled into North London to support the men in red white and blue. The side-lines were however given something to cheer them almost immediately, Haringey putting the kick off directly into touch. From the subsequent scrum, Watford broke via the impressive Holloway who was hauled down just inside the opposition 22. Watford recycled the ball and after a couple of phases no 8 Liam Meredith scored from close range. Menzies added the extras, and with barely two minutes on the clock Watford found themselves 7 points up.
Given the rain, it was no surprise to see numerous set pieces punctuating play in the opening 20 minutes. Whilst Haringey had the size advantage up front and perhaps the edge in the scrum, Watford’s lineout was in imperious form – credit to Hancock’s throwing and the work of Portway and Dunlop who both showed great dexterity when jumping. With a solid set-piece, Bram was able to unleash his back line with Man of the Match Sam Holloway a constant threat with the ball in hand. Another Holloway break took Watford deep into Haringey territory, the ball being quickly recycled out to Scott Menzies who showed great hands to pick a loose pass off his toes and cross over. Extras added, Watford 14-0 to the good after 18 minutes.
Haringey looked to get back into the game by utilising their big strike runners, however despite retaining possession and going through numerous phases they rarely threatened the visitors 22. Rhino’s over-enthusiasm at the breakdown allowed Watford to clear with a penalty to earn a lineout just inside our own 10m line. What followed next was an exceptional display of power and control, the forward pack mauling Haringey back a full 40m before flanker Luke Hammill peeled from the back to dot down. Extras again added, Watford 0-21 to the good at half time.
Haringey knew they needed to score first once the game re-started if they were to get anything from the match, and started the second half a changed outfit. Using their powerful runners to good effect, Rhinos were able to make significant inroads into our territory. Watford as a whole stepped up to the challenge with particularly telling contributions from Bram, Pitsialis and Hammill during a testing period.
Having weathered the storm, Watford were able to clear their lines and begin playing rugby back in Rhino’s territory. Things began to get slightly heated, a Haringey infringement giving Watford the chance to put a penalty into the corner. From the subsequent lineout, Meredith scored from a well-worked set piece play to give Watford a deserved bonus point – Menzies once more slotting the additional two. Watford looked to finish the game strongly, coming close to adding to their total on a number of occasions. It took until the 77th minute for a fifth try to come, a quickly taken lineout from Jack Upton sending Scott Menzies through for his second, and Watford’s 5th.
All in all, a pleasing performance in testing conditions against a game Haringey side who never threw the towel in. Whilst there is a lot to improve on, a bonus point victory away from home in testing conditions is more than welcome.
MotM: Sam Holloway. Indomitable with the ball in hand, constantly made yards.