It was a bad day at the office for Harpenden at Southend where they shipped in eight tries to go down to their heaviest defeat of the season, although they did manage to secure a try bonus point. The loss, which came after two successive victories, means they slip one place to eighth in London One North.
It only took the home team some three minutes to get on the scoresheet when stand-off Ben Lloyd kicked a penalty awarded for offside. Shortly afterwards Harpenden full-back Tom Sweeney made a try-saving tackle following a Southend break, but it was not long before they created an overlap down the right to give them an easy run in for an unconverted try. Harpenden had an opportunity to get on the scoreboard when stand-off Tom Stagg kicked ahead and a Southend defender was caught in possession, but unfortunately Sweeney missed the resulting penalty. Southend were moving the ball with precision and made another breakthrough the centre. Winger Billy Sach and Sweeney collided with each other when attempting covering tackles, not only allowing Southend to score another seven points, but also leading to Sach having to leave the field. He was replaced by Adam Wilkinson.
Harpenden hit back from an attacking lineout following a penalty, which allowed them to form a good driving maul from which recent back row signing Hamish Renwick got the touch down. Sweeney converted, leaving the half-time score at 15-7. The home side further extended their lead early in the second half with two converted tries and, to add insult to injury, the second came from a turnover of a Harpenden lineout.
Harpenden centre Matt Deane got five points back following a good line break, but shortly after that received a yellow card for a high tackle and had to spend 10 minutes in the sin bin. Southend scored another converted try and after continued pressure, a further five points from a pushover scrum. Harpenden second row Ed Preston, returning after a concussion absence, forced his way over for a try (unconverted) before Southend gathered a favourable bounce from a cross kick to the right wing, to add five more points to their total. Harpendenís maul had been effective and again yielded an unconverted try for back rower Michael Goode, who was also returning following concussion. That rescued a try bonus point for Harpenden, but, fittingly, the final word belonged to the home team who scored a replica of their previous try. This one was converted to leave the final score at 53-22.
However, Harpenden have an opportunity to get back to winning ways on Saturday with a home fixture to Ruislip. Kick-off is at 3pm.
Harpenden: Sweeney, Sach, Deane, Tane, McClean; Stagg, Gulliford; McLoughlin, Sims, Campion, Preston, Lacey, Goode, Jillians, Renwick. Replacements: McSporran, Rojas, Wilkinson.