|Date||7 October 2017|
|Result||W 45 - 31|
|Time played||Normal time|
Bank of England 1st XV vs Watford RFC (Match Report - 7th October 2017)
Placed first in the league and unbeaten to date, Bank travelled north to Radlett Road to take on Watford this weekend. Much has been made of Watford’s poor start to the season, having only picked up a solitary point from 4 matches, but Bank knew better than to expect the home side to roll over. With the home crowd out en masse, Watford were clearly keen for a scalp.
Barely had the kicking tee left the field when Bank linked well to exploit a narrow Watford defence again. From deep in their own half, it was shipped wide to Farr who made 50 metres before drawing the final man and offloading to Plant, who took the try well. The conversion from Marshall made it 14-0 within six minutes.
It took a huge but speculative kick from the boot of fly-half Marshall to regain territory for Bank. With clean lineout ball, the backline fired once again with a classy move to release Farr on the right flank. Having been brought down just short of the line, Marshall cleared up well to poach a try to make it 19-7.
Once again, Bank found themselves on the back foot after the restart. Poor discipline and backchat saw the side penalised and camped out deep in their own 22 for extended periods. Poor execution in the midfield squandered several chances to counter-attack, but there were certainly moments of defensive brilliance interspersed within this period of play. In a scene reminiscent of ‘Brokeback Mountain’, flankers Waite and Hadley celebrated a notable double jackal turnover with a tender but exuberant embrace. The resultant possession was used to good effect. Bank flyer Will Powles executed a brilliant solo try from deep inside his own half, rounding the Watford winger with ease. Another first half bonus point for Bank, but the edge was soon taken off it by Watford finding their way back into the Bank 22. The away side were now decidedly making it hard for themselves. Tackles were too high and a narrow Watford attack was made to look better than it was. Confusion on the tryline led to a strong scrum for Watford, resulting in a penalty try. 26-14 to Bank at the half-time whistle.
The early pressure paid off for Bank, sucking Watford into their narrow defensive structure. Great hands from Scothern and Lunn fed an insatiable Farr and Trueman, making a 60 metre try look staggeringly easy. Farr with his second try to make it 33-14. Not to be left out, Trueman took a wonderful try of his own only two minutes later. A deft dummy and hard, direct running the centre split the Watford midfield and run in unopposed. A missed conversion from Marshall left it at 38-14 with 30 minutes remaining.
The Bank forwards did well to dominate the scrum and start to sack the Watford lineout in the last quarter. After a loose breakdown in the home side’s half, Waite saw an opportunity to attack the fringes. As if on hot coals, he stormed through the centre to take a seventh try for Bank, only to be reprimanded by the referee for an outlandish swan-dive. Marshall stepped up to take the extras with ease and make it 45-14.
A combination of factors made the last 15 minutes hard to view for the away supporters. Playing with 14 men after Brewin was unlucky to get sin-binned for a late hit, Bank continued to make life hard for themselves. Conceding three tries in an error-strewn closing period, Bank will be disappointed with the final 45-31 scoreline, though it is certainly fair testament to a concerted fightback from Watford.
Bank remain unbeaten and top of the league, with a 5th win on the trot. With notable mentions for the steadfast Pollock at prop, and the ever-dangerous Powles on the wing, man of the match honours went to James Trueman this weekend. He looked imperious at outside-centre and managed to make a huge impact on the game before being forced off in the second half with a knee injury.
Whilst a bonus point win is always welcome, continued success breeds ever higher expectations, which weren’t realistically met today. Bank take a break from the league next week to begin their campaign in the RFU Vase with a tough home fixture against Old Whitgiftians.