Photo courtesy Marc Aspland, The Times
Harpenden, sporting a rainbow strip in support of Stonewall, hit the winning trail again against a tough Grasshoppers side with a bonus point win that lifts them into third place in London Two North West. Although Harps were ahead for most of the game, the west Londoners belied their lowly league position by repeatedly coming back at them and it was only after Harps scored their fourth try with 10 minutes to go that victory was virtually assured.
Skipper Oli Lacey said: “We played well for large parts of the game and we’re delighted with the win, although we are a little disappointed to have conceded so many points.” Harps went on the attack from the outset and were quickly rewarded when tight-head prop Ben Campion went over for a try after just four minutes. However the Londoners hit back with a try from centre Sean Connor on eight minutes before Harps stand-off Tom Sweeney kicked two long-range penalties on 18 and 25 minutes to give them a 11-7 lead.
Thanks to the pack scrummaging and mauling well, the Harps backs were getting plenty of good ball. With centres Nick Childs and Tagen Strydom running hard and straight and powerful right wing Joe Onyuma catching the eye on his home debut, it was no surprise when left wing Adam Wilkinson touched down on 30 minutes. Sweeney added the extra points. Poor defence allowed Grasshoppers to reduce the deficit with a try from scrum-half Jack Jones on 35 minutes. Harps, though, ended the half back in command when referee Simon Shepard awarded them a penalty try just before the break. Although Harps began the second half in impressive style they were left to rue a series of missed opportunities when Connor scored his second try on 56 minutes. A successful penalty kick by the visitors three minutes later reduced Harps’ lead to just five points.
The scores jolted Harps back into action and on 70 minutes they were awarded a second penalty try after Grasshoppers had illegally tried to disrupt a series of scrums on their five-metre line. Now ahead 32-20 Harps went in search of a further score but Grasshoppers kept going and were rewarded with a fourth try when Connor touched down for his hat-trick in the final play of the game.
Harps’ next match is at Hackney on Saturday.
Harpenden: Sach, Onyuma, Strydom, Childs, Wilkinson; Sweeney, Gulliford; Campion, Sims, Rolfe, Parrot, Lacey, Kent, Murphy, Sanders. Replacements: Hales, Saunders, Tominey