At the end of the first half no-one thought that the margin of defeat would be as great as it was at the finish. Harpenden and Hemel were neck and neck for a long time until in the latter stages of the match the home side's fitness proved to be that superior. Hemel's club President Joe Weed, looking remarkably fit for a man in his mid-eighties, was generous in his praise for the winners but hoped in their next meeting his team could fare better.
In total, 13 tries were awarded by Tony Leake who had no difficulty in supervising two teams who played disciplined rugby throughout and it was a joy for both sets of spectators to see a fast-flowing game despite the wet conditions which dominated a part of the match. However, it meant our Chairman's young son (11-year-old Jack Valentine Francey) in charge of the kicking-tee was knackered by the end of the 80 minutes trying to keep up with play, a trait his father occasionally displayed when he turned out for the first XV after a Friday-night session in the local juice bar.
A fine pick-up by number 8 Michael Goode opened up the scoring fairly early on, converted by fly-half Oliver Mann. Hemel's Brent McDougall replied with his try converted by the talented number 10, Jamie Hearn. The match then turned from one end to the other with the away team's forwards performing well to give Hearn plenty of opportunities to test the Harpenden defence that proved to be vunerable under the long cross-kicks towards the waiting Hemel wings.
By the time we were into the second half, Harpenden had conceded three tries, one a great score from Hemel's Jack Field, and replied with four of their own including a penalty try that, of course, didn't need Mann. For the record, during the afternoon he notched up 6 conversions.
Once into the second half, Harpenden established themselves more strongly, and gradually their superior fitness started to show. Tries came thick and fast and by the finish Wilkinson (3); Barber (2); and, George Attfield (1) joined Goode on the score-sheet. Hemel scored a late try, again converted by Hearn, who had a very good afternoon.
Asked for a comment after the match Manager, Rod Mcaulay, shrugged his shoulders saying that at least the rain wasn't as bad as the week before when he narrowly avoided drowning on Hampstead Heath in the name of the linespersons' guild. Can't wait for the snow.
Team: Luke Barber, Conor McClean, Jimmy Speirs, Bobby Tane, Adam Wilkinson, Oliver Mann, Mark Evans, Sean McLoughlin, Peter Sims, George Rolfe, Ryan Gue, Oliver Lacey, Jack Pennell, George Attfield, Michael Goode.
Harpenden's next game is against HAC (Away) on 23rd September