Fine win in opening league match

Hampstead 12 v Harpenden 36

London 2 NW

9 September 2017

Away from home, Harpenden do not take it for granted that they will beat a normally strong Hampstead side. However, all the hard work pre-season paid off. This time Harpenden looked better organised, defended resolutely and attacked aggressively throughout. The two things of note during the game were the number of times that Hampstead needlessly kicked possession away and secondly the difference between the two sides' handling in the wet conditions. Harpenden were better adapted on this count. Weathering an initial period of pressure from Hampstead, Harps' full back Luke Barber scored an unconverted try on the right after an exchange of passes with his fly-half Ollie Mann, who then kicked a penalty to make the score 8-0 by half-time.

With 2 minutes of the first half remaining, the luckless centre Bobby Tane made a crunching man and ball tackle that was unfortunately adjudged to be illegal for not using the arms. Despite being a man down Harpenden went further ahead with a converted try by scrum-half Mark Evans from a quickly taken penalty. Soon afterwards, the strong-running flanker George Attfield suffered a big hit and was replaced by Jack Pennell. McClean then came on for Smith.

Centre Jimmy Speirs then created an opportunity for Tane to charge through and score before going over for a try himself. Both were converted leaving Harps with a very healthy 29 to nil lead and a try bonus point. It was then Hampstead's turn to get on the score-sheet with an unconverted try from Matt Ward following a concerted attack down the right with 6 minutes to go and the rain starting to pour down again. Towards the end, left wing Adam Wilkinson went over, his try being converted by Mann, to restore Harps lead before Hampstead's Jack Brooks scored a near-post try in the last move of the game that was converted leaving the score at 12 - 36.

The resilient Harpenden pack did not come away scot-free. Ryan Gue's energetic performance was cut short by a nasty gash above his right eyebrow. Fortunately, George Attfield recovered in time to return to the field before the end. The result proved that Harpenden will do well in the league this year provided of course player availability remains a constant.

A word, too, for our touch judge and squad manager Rod Macauley. Those who witnessed the match can verify the soaking he got in the early stages. The sun came out later on only for the rain to come bucketing down again. But, in true Irish spirit, Rod never once pointed his flag in the wrong direction!

Squad

McLoughlin, Sims, Hughes, Rolfe {T}, Lacey, Goode, Attfield, Evans, Mann, Wilkinson, Tane, Speirs, Smith, Barber, Randall, Pennell McClean

Harpenden's next fixture is on Saturday 16th September at home against Hemel Hempstead starting 3:00pm.