Holt lose Vase but now focus on play-off

RUGBY: After losing the final of the area final of the Junior Vase, Holt must re-focus on the league play-off, hosting Millwall on Saturday.

Holt have played and beaten them before, in the Junior Vase a few years ago.

This is a must-win game in order to secure the promotion they deserve and as a compliment to coaches Steed and Chapman, who have worked extremely hard all season to get the side to where they are.

HAC 26, Holt 9

Holt travelled to the Old Albanians ground in Hertfordshire to play The Honourable Artillery Company in the London and South-East area final of the Junior Vase. The reason for the neutral ground was that HAC's ground is now used for cricket.

The weather was extremely hot and the facilities were excellent. The pitch was full size, which suited Holt's running game.

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Their opponents were top of their league and had won promotion and provided a very stern test.

Holt were put to the test from the onset and the defence was called upon to deal with a very lively side. It was obvious why they had lost only one league game.

Holt kept their line intact and after 16 minutes they took the lead.Allen kicked a penalty following a visit to the opposition half.

To build on a three-point lead was difficult, and following a charged-down kick HAC gained possession and – with a well-executed driving maul – scored a converted try to go into the lead 7-3.

This was after 23 minutes, with still plenty of time to put matters right before half-time. Holt again tested their opponents' defence and Allen again was on target with a penalty after 28 minutes to reduce the deficit to one point at 7-6.

Unfortunately for Holt, their opponents extended their lead to 10-6 four minutes later.

With the break approaching, Holt then had a very good chance to score a try, but the ball was knocked-on and the chance was lost.

The score did not change before the break and with a small deficit, Holt knew their chance in the second half to overtake their lively opponents depended on commitment of the first order.

The half began with HAC again testing Holt's defence, which stood firm, especially when they held up a scoring chance to deny their opponents a try.

Holt were doing their level best to get into their opponents' half, but they were spending most of the time defending.

Wright went off injured after 17 minutes, but his replacement, Watt, was equal to the cause.

Eventually, Holt were rewarded when Allen kicked his third penalty to reduce the deficit to one point at 10-9.

And two minutes later he had another chance from the half-way line, to put his side in the lead.

But the gods were against Holt on this occasion and the chance was not taken.

The HAC then attacked Holt's line and were rewarded with a try four minutes later to extend their lead to 15-9.

Holt conceded a penalty with eight minutes remaining to go further behind at 18-9. And the screw was turned when another penalty was kicked three minutes later, putting the game out of reach at 21-9.

Holt did their level best to break down a very resolute side, but were never really able to pressurise their goal-line. And with time running out, HAC were gifted a try in the dying moments of the game, making the score 26-9, which rather flattered them.