Newly promoted Harpenden began life in London One North with an emphatic seven-try win against Old Priorians. With their powerful pack providing plenty of ball, the new-look backline was able to take full advantage to provide a feast of attacking rugby.
After the opening exchanges in which neither side was able to dominate, Harps new centre Matt Deane broke the deadlock on 15 minutes when he raced on to a Bobby Tane pass to touch down near the posts. And three minutes later Tane, returning to the side after a year playing in Spain, scored in the left-hand corner after a great break by teenage winger Henry Simcott. Full-back Tom Sweeney converted both scores
The West Londoners fought desperately to get back into the game, but, despite enjoying plenty of possession and territory, fantastic defence by Harps kept them out, which meant the home side took a 14-0 lead into the break. Five minutes into the second half Sweeney scored the try of the day after OPs had spilled possession deep inside Harps’ 22 to race 70 yards to touch down in the right-hand corner. And eight minutes later right-wing Max Baggio brought up the try bonus point when he touched down following another break by the impressive Deane.
Deane got his second try on 65 minutes after a fine run by Tom Stagg, who had come on a few minutes earlier to replace stand-off Ollie Mann who had moved into the scrum-half position following a shoulder injury to Fred Gulliford. Shortly afterwards Baggio touched down for his second and Harps’ sixth try after another Deane break. OPs, who had continued to battle hard, were finally rewarded with a try on 77 minutes by hooker Ben Ridley. But the last word belonged to Harps when Mann capped a superb display with a try under the posts in the final play of the game. Sweeney added the extra points to make it six successful conversion attempts out of seven.
Jubilant skipper Oli Lacey said: “I’m really happy with our performance. We were confident before the game of getting a result because we knew we had the power up front and were bolstered by new players coming into the back-line. But it was our defence that won us the game because at 14-0 it still could have gone either way.”
Harps travel to Eton Manor this Saturday before hosting Colchester on 21 September.
Team; Sweeney, Baggio, Deane, Tane, Simcott; Mann, Gulliford; McLoughlin, Sims, Campion, Rolfe, Lacey, Preston, Lear, Goode. Replacements: Murphy, Stagg, Tominey.