Last minute misery for Harps as they surrender league leadership

Harpenden 20 Belsize Park 23

11 Nov 2017

London 2 NW

A try deep into stoppage time consigned Harpenden to their second defeat in three games - and with it leadership of London Two North West. They had in fact looked to have won the match on 78 minutes when skipper Oli Lacey was driven over the line for a try to give them a 20-16 lead. They then only had to hold on to the ball from the restart to see out the game but contrived to give away possession, and following a seemingly endless series of penalties around their five-metre line, Belsize Park sealed the result at the death with a try under the posts from Jack Newman.

Lacey was gracious in defeat saying: "Belsize Park are a good side and deserved to win. We always knew this would be a very close game but unfortunately discipline was a problem for us today as we gave away far too many penalties. We've now got two weeks to regroup before we travel to London Nigerians on the 25th for what will be another key game." Harps conceded a try after only two minutes when Marcus Puleafi was driven over the line from a maul. Full back Luke Barber levelled the scores on 14 minutes with a well-worked try in the right-hand corner.

The Londoners then went ahead with a James Huxtable penalty on 17 minutes. They increased their lead on 28 minutes with another Huxtable penalty before Harps outside centre Jimmy Speirs scored the try of the day following a scorching 35-yard break. Stand-off Ollie Mann duly converted to give Harps a 12-11 lead, which they took into the break.

The second half was a tense affair, the highlight of which was some great defence by both sides. Harps eventually went further ahead on 71 minutes thanks to a superb long-range penalty kick by Mann. But on 76 minutes the visitors wrestled back the lead with a try by their skipper Will Ville to take the score to 16-15 in their favour. When Lacey then went over for a try shortly afterwards it seemed to many that Harps had got out of jail, but, as was the case against Chiswick two weeks before, a failure to choose the right option cost them dear.

Harpenden: Barber, Francis, Speirs, McClean, Wilkinson; Mann, Evans; McLoughlin, Randall, Ledwidge, Rolfe, Lacey, Pennell, Attfield, Preston. Replacements: Sanders, Sims, Sweeney.