Hereford 3 pts Old Halesonians 31.
HEREFORD’S coach Mark Harris was left disappointed after his side were comprehensively turned over by the Midlands One West promotion chasers.
The visitors controlled the game virtually from the outset after scoring a third-minute try and, despite plenty of pressure, Hereford were never really able to wrest back the initiative.
“We were playing on our own patch and I thought we should have been up for it more,” said Harris.
“But, in fairness to Old Halesonians, they are the best team we have played this year and will certainly be up at the top of the table come the end of the season.
“They were aggressive in defence and when they got into good areas they were really clinical and came away with points.”
The early try, converted by full-back Steve Powell, whose place-kicking was impeccable throughout, was a setback, but certainly seemed to inspire Hereford in the early phases.
The home side set up a long period of pressure, sparked by a fine break from full-back Benjamin Osborne which kept them in the Old Halesonians’ 22 for most of the first 20 minutes. The chance to cut arrears came with a penalty but Charlie Loughman dragged his kick a foot wide.
On 27 minutes, Dean Powell’s effort was successful and hopes were high at this stage that a close encounter would ensue.
However, Old Halesonians stormed back on the attack from the kick-off and reasserted their control with a further converted try.
A penalty in first-half added time was followed by a careless infringement which brought another converted try, allowing the promotion-chasers to go into the break with a considerable 24-3 advantage.
Hereford continue to have good spells of pressure as the second period got under way and it seemed to have paid off on 58 minutes when Powell died over from a quickly-taken penalty only for referee Adam Carpenter to call play back.
But otherwise, Hereford were careless with their handling and kicked away possession too often.
“We had a lot of possession but did not turn it into points,” said Harris.
“We were trying to score of second and third phase and we should have been building eight, nine or 10 phases and then hopefully something would come out of it.”
Old Halesonians showed how it should be done, capitalising on an error to score a converted try – the only score of the half – on 58 minutes.
But otherwise, the power of their scrum was enough to keep the Wyesiders at bay.
“They have a very big front five and we missed Billy Sparey at tight-head, although Dave Thomas came in and did well,” said Harris. “They were the best scrum we have played against all year.”
The Hereford coach is, however, far from despondent with his side’s showing so far this season with a position in the top six and some promising young players in the squad auguring well for future years.
“The season is going alright and we have some good youngsters coming through,” he said.
“James Parker is going to be a very good player as is Brad Talbot while another, Alex Hickinbotham, came on today and did well and Tom Ewins in the centre is another – all around 20 or 21 years old – so if we can finish in the top six then it’s a successful season.
“Next week, we go to Worcester Wanderers who are the league leaders – we have to pick ourselves up and just move on, there is no point in dwelling on this.”
MATCH FACTS Hereford: Osborne, Loughman, Pudge, Ewins, Hallett, Powell, Grisman; Parker, Sayner, Thomas, Bullock, Lewis, R Preece, McColl, Talbot. Replacements: Hillstead, Hickinbotham, G Preece.
Old Halesonians: Powell, Oxford, R Robinson, C Robinson, Smith, Harris, Hadkiss; Young, Jordan, Breakwell, McMahon, Breeze, Taylor, Fitzgerald, Dempsey. Replacements: Head, Ford, Sabel.
Referee: Adam Carpenter.