London 2 NW 9 March 2019

Capital gains for Harps as they beat league leaders

Harpenden 22 Belsize Park 19

Harpenden notched up their most important victory of the season by beating league leaders Belsize Park in a thrilling match between London Two North West’s top two sides. Their joy was compounded in hearing as they came off the pitch that third-placed Chiswick had crashed to a shock 19-7 defeat at strugglers Enfield Ignatians. The two results mean that with just two league games to go Harps are odds-on favourites to clinch second place – and with it entry into the London Two North play-off – and they now have an outside chance of winning the league title itself if Belsize Park continue to falter.

Skipper Oli Lacey said: “This is a great win as we knew this would be a tough game. Although we let them back into the match at times we worked really hard throughout the game and our defence was excellent.” With a strong wind gusting over Redbourn Lane, Harps, with their scrum dominating, monopolised both territory and possession for the first half hour but only had a successful Tom Sweeney penalty kick on 28 minutes to show for their efforts.

When Harps powerful number eight Michael Goode then limped off and inside centre Nick Childs was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle, Belsize Park seized the initiative and scored a try through hooker Harrison George, which was duly converted to give them a 7-3 lead that they then took into the break. Harps grabbed back the lead on 50 minutes with a try from flanker Ryan Gue (converted by Sweeney) and three minutes later left wing Max Baggio rounded off a sweet passing movement to touch down.

Almost immediately the Londoners hit back with a converted try from lock Chris Stark to take the score to 15-14. But on 65 minutes Harps centre Adam Wilkinson touched down under the post for a superb try, which was converted by Sweeney.

The Londoners reduced the arrears to just three points on 70 minutes with a try from wing Josh Yerrell. Fired up by the score, they them came looking for a fourth try but despite being under tremendous pressure, Harps held firm to secure a famous victory.

Harpenden: Hales, Baggio, Wilkinson, Childs, Sweeney; Mann, Gulliford; McLoughlin, Sims, G Rolfe, T Rolfe, Lacey, Wheatley, Gue, Goode. Replacements: Murphy, Preston, Sanders