Pelicans still undefeated in nail-biting finish.
With the Pinner 1st XV Middlesex Merit Table Vase cup match cancelled as Civil Service Barbarians couldn’t raise a team the Pelicans [2nd XV] braved the Watford football traffic to face Hemel Hempstead IVth XV on Saturday. None of Hemel’s first three sides had matches either. Playing with the slope Pinner soon were in command, the ball rarely getting out of the home team’s half. The first try came after 15 minutes when the Pinner pressure led Hemel conceding a penalty which was quickly taken and sent along the line to left-wing Jon Petrella who ran through several tackles to score out wide. Fly-half Don Wilson’s fine kick added the extra points. Pinner were soon back in the home 22 with Hemel conceding a series of penalties for off-side. From one of these Pinner forwards drove forward allowing number 8 Andrew Alexander to score the second try. On the crux of half-time Hemel knocked on in their 22, Pinner quickly fed the ball left for Petrella to round the slow defence to score under the posts. Williams kicked the 2 points to give the visitors a 19 – 0 lead.
Hemel obviously know their sloping pitch and came more into the game in the second half. They were first to score when Pinner were penalised for not rolling away allowing the home team to get their first try. Pinners, now down to 14 men following a first-half injury to winger Jepsen, were forced on the defensive. Their chance of a second score came when they opted for a line-out after yet another penalty but the defence held. Pelicans fought their way back to the opponents 22 and a fine break by the scum-half sent Petrella in for his third try giving a bonus point and a comfortable lead of 24 – 5. With only ten minutes remaining Hemel refused to lie down and hammered the tiring Pinner defence. A strong forward drive resulted in the home second try close in with the conversion to bring the score to 24 – 12. Still Hemel attacked and with Pinner one man down gaps were appearing in the defence. Two minute left and another Hemel try on the left to bring it to 24 -17. Surely Pelicans could hang on but Hemel were now Rampant. Straight from the kick-off, in the first minute of injury time, the full-back again ran powerfully down the left to score under the posts. The conversion was successful and the scores tied at 24 all. Hemel collected the kick off and looked to attack from deep in their half and steal a victory. Fortunately possibly the pass that would have sent their winger speeding down the left wing, was intercepted by Pinner Chairman Andy Wright now playing on the right wing. From the resulting maul Hemel gained possession were penalised. Now in the fourth minute of injury time with some visiting spectators calling for the ball to be kicked into touch and settle for a draw Pinner had other ideas. The penalty was quickly taken and whipped to centre Ash Fison who evaded three half-hearted tackles to score Pelicans decisive fifth try. Williams added the conversion to retain Pinner’s unbeaten record at 21 – 24.