Chiswick step on Harpenden’s promotion dream with late scores

Harpenden V Chiswick - Oli Lacey in action for Harpenden.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick - Oli Lacey in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

Two tries inside the last 10 minutes saw Harpenden’s steely hold on a play-off place broken by their biggest challengers.

Harpenden V Chiswick - Al Whittaker in action for Harpenden.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick - Al Whittaker in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

Chiswick’s visit to Redbourn Lane looked like extending Harpenden’s advantage to 10 points and all but guaranteeing them a shot at promotion to the next level.

Harpenden V Chiswick - Tom Sweeney in action for Harpenden.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick - Tom Sweeney in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

As it is the 19-15 loss means everything is back up in the air with the west London side now just four points behind and with a game in hand.

Harpenden V Chiswick - Tagen Strydom in action for Harpenden.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick - Tagen Strydom in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

Skipper Oli Lacey said: “We’re bitterly disappointed as we thought we’d done enough to win but we turned off at key moments.

Harpenden V Chiswick - Al Whittaker in action for Harpenden.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick - Al Whittaker in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

“We must now draw a line under the result and move on to the next game.”

Harpenden V Chiswick - Ed Preston in action for Harpenden.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick - Ed Preston in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

The match was as tense and hard-fought as expected and even though Harpenden failed to register a try for the first time this season, five penalties from the dependable boot of Tom Sweeney had their noses in front right up until the latter stages.

Harpenden V Chiswick - Nick Childs in action for Harpenden.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick - Nick Childs in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

He began his kicking masterclass as early as the third minute but the hosts were then dealt hammer blows when they lost giant tight-head prop Sam Staff and powerful lock Al Whittaker to injury, although a heavily patched up Whittaker was able to return to the fray in the second half.

Harpenden V Chiswick - Ed Preston in action for Harpenden.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick - Ed Preston in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

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Fortunately for Harps ill-discipline by Chiswick allowed Sweeney to convert two more penalties on 19 and 32 minutes for a 9-0 lead.

Harpenden V Chiswick - Jack Pennel's progress is stopped by Chiswick.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick - Jack Pennel's progress is stopped by Chiswick. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

Those weren’t the final points of the half though as the visitors continued to serve it up and were eventually rewarded when right wing Adam Churton went over for a try five minutes before the break.

Harpenden V Chiswick - Injuries played a key part in Harpenden's defeat to Chiswick.
Picture: Kary

Harpenden V Chiswick - Injuries played a key part in Harpenden's defeat to Chiswick. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

And Harps’ injury curse continued before they reached the interval when flanker Tom Sanders was forced off.

Harpenden V Chiswick -
Harpenden's Michael Goode is hauled down to earth against Chiswick.Picture

Harpenden V Chiswick - Harpenden's Michael Goode is hauled down to earth against Chiswick.Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

They still managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over though and two further kicks from Sweeney on 53 and 56 minutes gave the hosts a 10-point an advantage.

Harpenden V Chiswick - Ryan Gue in action for Harpenden.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick - Ryan Gue in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

It was a lead that looked to be giving them the vital success but with 10 minutes to go Chiswick flanker Ryno Lopez went over for a score under the posts that was converted by Oliver Snooks.

Harpenden V Chiswick .
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick . Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

And with the scent of victory in their nostrils, the Londoners threw everything at Harps, finally finding a chink in the armour with just two minutes remaining thanks to Snooks.

Harpenden V Chiswick - Ryan Gue in action for Harpenden.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick - Ryan Gue in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

The conversion by George Bibby was merely an exclamation point.

Harpenden V Chiswick - Sean McLoughlin in action for Harpenden.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick - Sean McLoughlin in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

Harpenden V Chiswick - Tom Rolfe in action for Harpenden.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick - Tom Rolfe in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

Harpenden V Chiswick .
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick . Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

Harpenden V Chiswick - Tom Rolfe in action for Harpenden.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Chiswick - Tom Rolfe in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant