Depleted Royston beaten by a strong Datchworth outfit
By Lee Gilbert
A depleted Royston side were soundly beaten by well-drilled and organized Datchworth outfit on the weekend as they continue to adjust to this league.
A much-depleted Royston side welcomed high-flying Datchworth to the Heath this Saturday for the latest round of fixtures in London 3NW. After the strong performance against London Welsh the previous week, a mixture of injuries and unavailability resulted in no less than 12 personnel and positional changes in the Royston match day squad, with two back row forwards lining up in the 10/12 axis. A likely tough day ahead…..
……and so it proved to be. From the kick-off Datchworth were relentless in defence, keeping Royston pinned deep in their own 22. A subsequent poor clearance kick from flanker Lee Gilbert standing in at outside half led to a period of Datchworth pressure that eventually resulted in a kickable penalty for a 3-0 lead. From the re-start Datchworth continued to bludgeon away at the Royston D with several big carries, with Royston D holding firm to begin with. However, eventually the pressure told and Datchworth claimed their first try of the day from a strong carry from their prop, easily converted for a 10-0 lead after ~15 minutes. Royston began to get into the game slowly, with flanker Max Finney making several yards on one particular carry but Royston struggled to maintain possession, with the lineout misfunctioning and the ball regularly turned over at the breakdown. Shortly before half time Datchworth adding two further scores via a combination of poor clearance kicking and missed tackles to extend their lead to 22-0.
At half time, several harsh words were shared in the huddle as Royston sought to work out how they could get themselves back into this match. Regular outside half Will Cottrell was moved back into position, with Gilbert moving out to 13 to ensure Royston at least had more structure for the final 40 minutes, especially with the strong wind now in their favour.
Royston were given a little hope early in the second half as the Datchworth second row was red carded for an off the ball incident. But where Royston sought to make use of the numerical advantage, Datchworth quickly put the game to bed by scoring their fourth try shortly afterwards, securing the extra bonus point in the process. With commitment to the fore but execution unfortunately lacking, Royston continued to struggle to enforce themselves on the game, and Datchworth scored a further two tries to take the score out to 39-0 with approximately 5 minutes remaining. To their credit, Royston upped their game for the closing stages, with inside centre for the day Matthew Muirhead and winger Dan Ritsema both carrying well, with the former just held up short after an excellent Ritsema break. But that was the last action of note, and the game finished 39-0 in Datchworth’s favour.
With Royston being a smaller club in comparison to several their London 3NW rivals, injuries and unavailability will always have a big influence with regards to their Saturday output, but this also relates to training, where a big upturn in effort is needed in terms of numbers. This is a tough league, and one that Royston have worked very hard to get into, but a response is needed on a Tuesday and Thursday evening if we are to not only maintain our status at this level, but begin to thrive in it. However, not all doom and gloom as another Royston academy product made their first team debut in the shape of second row Daniel Rabbetts, who is normally a flanker. Well played Daniel, and we look forward to seeing more of you throughout the season.