Pictures, courtesy Mel McLoughin on Flickr here
Harpenden put firmly behind them the misery of their defeat by Welwyn the previous weekend with a bonus point at Hammersmith and Fulham which lifted them into third place in London Two North West. On a wet, miserable afternoon at Hurlingham Park conditions were always going to be more suited to the forwards rather than the backs. Sure enough, the stronger Harpenden pack proved decisive.
Harps got off to a good start applying early pressure and after 10 minutes, following some slick passing, Tom Sweeney, making his first start for a few weeks following injury, went over for a try to the right of the posts, which he then converted. Hammers got on the scoreboard shortly afterwards with a penalty kick. However, the Harps pack were dominant in the scrums at this stage and won a penalty, having pushed the home team back to their five-metre line. It was an easy decision to have another scrum, which was marching towards the goal line when Hammers collapsed it, resulting in a penalty try.
Despite the frustration which Hammers must have felt at being unable to defend their line, they rallied and the remainder of the first half was more even. Adam Wilkinson went over for a try for Harps, which Sweeney converted and then Hammers broke through to score a converted try leaving it 10–21 at half time.
In the second half conditions were making things difficult for both teams, with the ball slipping away from players frequently and neither side were able to put together a decisive move.
In the final quarter the Harps pack were dominant again, this time from the lineouts, where Tom Rolfe was very effective. From the platform created Harps put together two powerful rolling mauls leading to tries for Michael Goode and Jack Murphy. Sweeney converted the first and nearly maintained his 100% record with the second bouncing back off the posts.
Just on full time Sweeney landed a final penalty to leave the score at 10–36, with Harps coach Matt Davies being particularly pleased that his team had prevented the opposition from adding to their score in the second half.