On a dry, but breezy, day on Hampstead Heath Harpenden started the match with a slight downhill advantage but playing with the wind against. Not long after, Harpenden’s Billy Sach was carried off the pitch, following a double tackle, with a damaging injury to his ankle.
No sooner had the game restarted when a chip from full-back Will Hales enabled wing Jack Pennell to steal in and touch down. The next score came when Rory Cox – Sach’s replacement on the left wing – made an incisive break, flicked the ball quickly to Tom Sweeney who, in turn, gave fly-half Ollie Mann the easiest of chances to score. After this optimistic start, Harpenden let themselves down by conceding a series of penalties. Hampstead, however, were unable to use the most of their opportunities having converted only two of several penalty attempts at goal.
Eventually, the referee declared ‘enough was enough’ and due to a string of subsequent penalties felt obliged to take the only option available to him by giving prop George Rolfe a yellow card. This was a double-whammy so-to-speak as Rolfe had only been on the pitch for two minutes having come on as a replacement. By the time the first half had come to an end, Hampstead were ahead 18pts to 17pts:In this period, they had scored two tries (converting one) whilst the visitors grabbed their third through Mann when the Harpenden scrum held firm 5 metres from the Hampstead line. Sweeney added the conversion.
The second half proved to be decisive from a Harpenden point of view:they scored four tries in answer to Hampstead’s solitary try down the left wing. Scores from Hales,; Adam Wheatley; Ed Preston; and, Adam Wilkinson – the latter on the stroke of full-time – made for a bonus as Sweeney was able to convert all four.
Afterwards, Harpenden’s Adam Wilkinson, who normally plays on the wing, was voted ‘Man of the Match’ by the Hampstead XV. His powerful display in the centre was respected by all of his peers.
Harpenden’s next match is on Saturday, 9 March against league leaders Belsize Park. Harpenden will need to be at their best if they want to be contenders for promotion to the next league. And there is no doubt that Harpenden have the skill and determination to get a result.
Squad: Sean McLoughlin, Peter Simms, Ben Campion, Ed Preston, Oli Lacey, Michael Goode, Ryan Gue, Adam Wheatley, Fred Gulliford, Ollie Mann, Billy Sach, Tom Sweeney, Adam Wilkinson, Jack Pennell, Will Hales, Subs: George Rolfe, Jack Murphy, Rory Saunders
Top Three League Table Positions