DERWENT 55-7 HALIFAX
Images: Agatha Torrance
A virtuoso performance from Ed Kemp helped Derwent College continue their impressive start to the season with a resounding 55-7 victory over Halifax this afternoon. The full back, whose snaking run had opened the scoring around the quarter hour mark, starred with a hat trick of tries to cement his position as the campaign’s leading scorer.
With Halifax fielding an unfamiliar side, largely composed of freshers, initial scrappiness was to be expected, as the team struggled to get out of the blocks. The gulf in team chemistry was telling, as Derwent’s pack pounced ably on a succession of loose balls in the opening stages, with captain Chris Judge and Robert “Bobbo” Johnson bulldozing their way through an uncoordinated Halifax front line.
A well won ruck was then justly rewarded by equally impressive back play, Kemp capping off some wonderful passing down the line, before fly half Phil Hammick converted between the sticks.
But Halifax responded and the trailing scoreline appeared to enliven them, a sustained period of forward pressure culminating in a penalty kick from the 22, although James McNeill was unable to score.
By the half hour mark, Halifax’s initial shakiness appeared to have subsided, but promising moves were ably matched by a strong Derwent pack.
In what was fast turning into a forwards’ game, it took another slippery ball to reignite 22 Acres; winger Alex Sanky, Derwent’s very own Forrest Gump, looked to have lost control of a hot potato, but recovered well, to score on the break, just inches in touch, but Hammick couldn’t convert.
Christian Elkheim added another just moments after the restart on the opposite side, before Kemp grabbed his second with another marauding surge into Halifax territory, but again these were not situations Hammick could make the most of.
At this point Derwent were dominating, Halifax’s brief renaissance proving to be just that and moments before half time, Johnson grabbed his third try in two games, finishing off a fine break away instigated by the expert coalescence of Kemp and Alex Cochrane-Dyet.
To Hammick’s relief, the try was scored under the posts and his conversion was no less than emphatic, securing Derwent a 29-0 lead before half time.
And Derwent started the second half just as they had finished the first, strongly, as Cochrane-Dyet etched his name onto the score sheet with a fine breakaway try.
Halifax’s Charles Hadley produced a moment of brilliance, perfectly timing his interception of a Derwent ball, and were it not for a last ditch saving challenge from Hammick centimetres from the try line, would have perhaps offered Halifax a way back into the game.
But Derwent showed no signs of letting up, with Cochrane-Dyet’s fantastic charge releasing Kemp to complete his hat trick, before Hugo Marino added another.
Scott Gally managed to score a consolation try for Halifax after a reshuffling of their pack, and for the ten or so minutes following this, a comeback did not seem that farfetched. Certainly, Derwent’s margin had perhaps bred complacency and Halifax were allowed to pen them back in their own 22.
But possession was not translated into points, and just as the good ship Halifax appeared to have been steadied, an incisive breakaway try from Elkheim proved to be the iceberg needed to restore Derwent’s dominance before full time.
Derwent’s second consecutive victory has confirmed early earmarking as favourites this season and captain Chris Judge spoke optimistically of his team’s chances: “It was a deserved victory and I think after today, we can be confident of some success this year. Everything we’ve worked on in training seems to be working and I’m glad the experiment has paid off.”
His Halifax counterpart Andy Cox spoke candidly and admitted, “It was always going to be a tough game, but while it might have been shaky at the start, I’m proud of the attitude of the players. I think we did give them a game towards the end, but just couldn’t convert our efforts into tries.” He also highlighted that this Halifax team is still very much one in transition, made up largely of freshers and will “probably take a few games to gel.”