Impressive Harpenden keep promotion dream alive

Chiswick 19 Harpenden 32

London 2NW 17 Feb 2018

Harpenden produced one of their best displays of the season to come from behind to record a highly satisfying bonus point win at Chiswick. In avenging a 25-31 defeat by the Londoners in October, they remain firmly in third place in London Two North West and if they can reproduce this form over the remaining five league games they must have an excellent chance of making the play-offs if not clinching the championship itself.

Harps skipper Oli Lacey said: "This is a big moment for us because Chiswick are a very good side who made it hard for us throughout the game. However, we kept our composure when we were behind at the start of the second half and made the right decisions when it mattered."

After weathering an early storm, Harps went ahead on five minutes when wing Max Baggio raced in to touch down in the far right-hand corner. On 16 minutes stand-off Ollie Mann increased the lead to 8-0 with a well-taken penalty. With Mann expertly orchestrating operations with the hand and the foot, it seemed only a matter of time before Harps would score again, so it was against the run of play when a break by Chiswick ended with scrum-half Russ Dovey scoring a try by the posts. And just before half-time the hosts went 12-8 ahead when Matt Cooper peeled off from a rolling maul to touch down.

However, it took Harps just three minutes into the second half to regain the lead when left-wing Fred Gulliford touched down following an excellent break by full-back Luke Barber. Mann duly converted and increased Harps' lead to 18-12 with a penalty four minutes later.

On 60 minutes Barber, who was looking dangerous every time he had the ball, scored the try of the game when he picked up a loose kick near Harps' 10 metre line and raced past five players to score under the posts. Mann duly added the extra points. Chiswick were not finished though and on 70 minutes replacement Luca Vanini reduced the deficit with a try under the posts, which was then converted to take the scoreline to 25-19. But five minutes later Baggio made the game safe for Harps with his second try after a scorching run. Mann again added the extra points.

Harps' next game is home to Hackney on 3 March.

Harpenden: Barber, Baggio, Tane, Sweeney, Gulliford; Mann, Moyle; McLoughlin, Sims, Ledwidge, Rolfe, Lacey, Sanders, Randall, Preston. Replacements: Francis, Owen, Tominey