Last-gasp penalty earns Hackney victory at Hitchin

Hackney captain Will Bowers (right). Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hackney captain Will Bowers (right). Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Andy Sprague struck a penalty with the last kick of the game as Hackney triumphed 16-14 at Hitchin and moved back into the top five of the London North-West Division Three table.

The Griffins had taken a 70-point hammering by title chasers Welwyn the previous week, but tries from Richard Yong and Will Bowers, followed by Sprague’s late score, secured their 12th league triumph, which moves them back above Datchworth.

On a dry and firm pitch that suited Hackney’s brand of open attacking rugby, the visitors deservedly took an early lead when they capitalised on poor defending by the hosts.

Hitchin’s full-back failed to field Sprague’s up-and-under, and when Joe Askham – making his return at fly-half – recovered the ball and fed PJ Lloyd, Yong was available on the overlap to touch down.

But Hackney’s initial dominance could not be maintained, as Hitchin’s pack responded with a try of their own after a period of time spent camped in the Griffins’ 22.

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Trailing 7-5 at the break despite dominating possession, Hackney’s frustrations were exacerbated by a second converted try for Hitchin, when substitute Tom Bentley’s pass to Will Burrows was intercepted.

But captain Bowers steered his side back to within five points of the lead when he leapt over the try-line after Ben Chamberlain had disrupted a Hitchin line-out five metres out.

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With five minutes remaining, Sprague’s penalty made it 14-13 and, after an intentional Hitchin knock-on, the comeback was complete when Sprague kept his cool to slot between the sticks once more with the last kick of the game.

The Griffins travel to face Stevenage a week on Saturday for the final game of the campaign.

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