Harpenden produced their best display of the season to defeat a useful Shelford side in front of a large and vociferous crowd. In ending a run of three narrow defeats, they remain ninth in London One North but, perhaps more importantly, they now know far better what is needed to win in a higher grade. Skipper Oli Lacey said: “In our defeats against Eton Manor and Colchester we lost from winning positions, but today we showed the maturity and game management needed to finish the game off. “Shelford are a good side but we were able to shut them down. The scrum did really well as did the backs and our defence ensured that we kept them until near the end. The good support we received also made a difference.”
Harps were in charge from the outset and went ahead on the seventh minute when number eight Adam Wheatley crashed over for a try after peeling off from the base of a ruck. Full-back Tom Sweeney then added the extra points. Shelford hit back with a penalty from stand-off Lewis Cracknell on 10 minutes. But Harps continued to boss the game, with the pack dominant in the tight and loose and Wheatley in particular catching the eye with a number of powerful runs. Sweeney added two further penalties, on 21 and 28 minutes, to give Harps a 13-3 lead at half-time. Cracknell kicked another penalty shortly after the break before Sweeney slotted over a third penalty on 47 minutes.
With the pack generally controlling affairs, Harps were awarded a penalty try on 50 minutes when Shelford illegally sought to halt a scrum surge on their five-metre line. Sweeney put the game completely beyond Shelford’s reach on 65 minutes by bursting through their defence to score under the posts before adding the extra points. Shelford continued to make a fight of it and were rewarded for their efforts near the end by a try from scrum-half Mike Gillick under the posts, but by then the game was already lost.
Harpenden’s next game is at home this Saturday to Amersham and Chiltern. Kick-off 3pm.
Harpenden: Sweeney, Baggio, Tane, McLean, Hague-Blundy; Deane, Gulliford; McLoughlin, Sims, Campion, Whittaker, Lacey, Gue, Speirs, Wheatley. Replacements: McSporran, Rolfe, Wilkinson.