Remembering the difficulties we faced in finding the opposition's ground the previous week one was tempted to pre-empt any problem here by taking certain pre-emptive measures. A service check on the SatNav maybe; an A-Z map of London; and, a copy of the Sky at Night in October in case we got completely lost and were obliged to come home in the dark, taking our bearings from the stars above?
At the end of the day there was no cause for alarm as we found the ground without trouble and Harpenden came in with another good victory scoring 9 tries against Hammersmith's 3. The only area where Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) out-scored Harpenden was in the number of penalties conceded, probably six times as many as their visitors.
Almost from the kick-off much was promised as the Harpenden pack pushed its way forward at great speed. By the end of the first period HRFC knew they had gained the upper hand by scoring, as per last week, another 6 tries. In reply, Hammersmith & Fulham had got a mere 3 points courtesy of fly-half Josh Thomas, obtained from their first visit into HRFC territory, within 3 minutes of the start. Having woken up to the fact they were down so soon, almost a mirror image of the previous Saturday, Harpenden countered with a vengeance.
First came a try from the speedy George Attfield - who formed a great partnership with the other members of the back-row club - Michael Goode and Ryan Gue. The latter scored twice and was impressive. Further tries came from wing Fred Gulliford, centre Jimmy Speirs and outside half Ollie Mann. The classy Mann converted all but two having played a dominant role during most of the match, combining well with scrum-half Mark Evans. As to the centres, Speirs and Bobby Tane, they were solid in defence making the right decisions at crucial moments of play. And, the best try of the match involved those two when the ball passed down the line from Evans and fly-half Mann, to the waiting Gulliford on the right wing, in a move that began in the Harpenden half.
By the time the sides changed ends Harpenden were in total control and Jack Francey was getting blown away with fatigue again with his tee-carrying duties. The HRFC forwards, in particular in the tight and lineout, were superior, earning the respect of their opponents and for the second time in a week the floodgates were about to open, or so it seemed. But, as happened against HAC, an injury to number 8 Michael Goode that forced him to retire proved to be, for a while at least, a game-changer.
So, from being in total command and leading by 43 points to 3, Harpenden landed up losing the second half leaking three tries to Thomas, Alton and Lo. Fortunately, they finally got their rhythm back and with some quick-passing movements, which have become the staple fare of their backs, tries were created for Tane, Lacey and a second Mann - the latter converted his own but narrowly missed the other two.
This was another high-scoring match which places Harpenden in a good position at the top of the league and will give them confidence as they prepare to face Enfield Ignatians in their home match at Redbourn Lane on 7 October, kick-off 3pm.
Thanks are due to the Hammersmith & Fulham committee for their pre-match pub lunch attended by inter alia David Fleming (just turned 70) and President Peter Danby (much older). None of our Lottery tickets was a winner but it was a nice gesture from Terry Alleyne to have given them to us. We are looking forward to the return fixture on 13 January next.
Squad: McLoughlin, Randall, Rolfe(G,) Lacey, Rolfe(T,) Goode, Gue, Attfield, Evans, Mann, Wilkinson(A,) Tane, Speirs, Gulliford, Barber, Sims, Longdon, Childs.