Haileybury capped a memorable season with a hard fought victory over local rivals Berkhamsted.
In wet, muddy conditions the home side maintained their undefeated home record in a feisty encounter. Haileybury started well exerting pressure on the visitors from the kick off but it was Berkhamsted who opened the scoring with a penalty from fly half Josh Barton to lead 3-0.
The home team put together some excellent rugby and opted to kick for the corner instead of going for the points and backed up the decision by getting players player of the year Josh Stibbs over the line from a driving maul after the imperious Ollie Moody secured possession. This was the outstanding Stibbs eleventh try of the season. Dawes added the conversion.
The game was quite attritional but of a high quality and Haileybury looked the more dangerous side with ball in hand. Berkhamsted pounded away through their forwards who made some good ground on the pick and go but Haileybury defended well with Ed Harris making some big hits and Kyle Douglas getting off the line to meet the physical challenge of the visitors.
Berton added another penalty after good work from the forwards. The tireless, hard-working Moody crossed for the home sides second try again from a driving maul after they opted to kick for the corner again.
The territory came from the clever kicking of half backs Dawes and McCall with some superb harrying by Spencer Owen and Harry Collins. Haileybury had a chance to finish off the game with the last play of the first half but knocked on with the line at their mercy.
The second half continued in much the same vein with tempers occasionally boiling over but Haileybury kept their composure and control to protect their lead well and with Dawes and McCall pulling the strings they managed to pin the visitors in their own territory for large parts of the half.
Haileybury struck next to boost their victory hopes. It was an excellent team try following a charge down by outstanding centre Harry Collins who combined with fly half Dawes to put centre Ollie Heazel over for a well deserved try. Dawes couldn’t add the extras so it was 17-6 to the home team with 15 minutes to go.
Berkhamsted had their flanker sent off which made it look like it was game over but the sending off galvanised the visitors and they had their best spell of the match gaining territory and possession.
After some good defence from the home team the visitors got themselves back in the game at 17-13 and left it tight with 5 minutes to go. Some superb defence from the likes Charlie Harrington and Iwan Dawes ensured that the upper six boys who had contributed so much to the team over their two years as first team regulars finished their last game with a pretty epic performance and victory.
Man of the match was Ollie Moody who was superb in the line-out and worked tirelessly around the park in attack and defence. This was a fitting way for Haileybury to cap off a tremendous season which left them undefeated at home, County champions and with a record of played 14, won 11 and lost 3. Their best season for many years and with a good number of Lower Six players in the team they will be looking to do even better next season.
Full Time: Haileybury 17-13 Berkhamsted