Derby success keeps Harpenden on a high

Oli Lacey in action for Harpenden.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

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

Harpenden head into the Christmas period sitting pretty in the battle for promotion from London Two North West after completing their first double of the season with a 25-8 success over rivals Hemel Hempstead.

It was also their seventh bonus-point win of the year and leaves them second in the table.

The victory at Redbourn Lane saw the Harpenden pack utterly dominant in the scrums and using rolling mauls to devastating effect.

But while that left them in charge for large parts of the match, the derby element of the game meant pride was at stake until the very last whistle as Hemel provided Harps with a stern test whenever they had the ball.

Skipper Oli Lacey said: “It’s always a tough game against Hemel and so it proved again.

“While we were dominant in the tight, it’s defence that wins games and we defended really well.”

With driving rain lashing in throughout the match, it was never going to be a feast of slick running rugby which meant that there were handling mistakes aplenty by both sides.

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After soaking up early Hemel pressure Harpenden went on the attack and were eventually rewarded with a pushover try by number eight Michael Goode on 15 minutes, which stand-off Tom Sweeney duly converted.

Sweeney added a successful penalty kick on 23 minutes before Goode went over for another pushover try 10 minutes later to give Harps a 15-0 lead at the break.

The second half saw the hosts continued to dominate in the tight but they could not translate their forward power into points and it was Hemel who scored first after the break with a penalty.

And it took Harpenden until the 74th minute before they found a way through the Hemel defence, Lacey himself touching down after peeling off from a rolling maul.

Hemel continued to battle, however, and were rewarded with a try on 78 minutes when Jamie Hoyes raced on to a superb kick ahead.

But it was Harpenden who had the last word though when replacement Adam Wheatley bagged the bonus-point try on the final play of the game.

Harpenden return to action after the festive shutdown with a trip to bottom club Letchworth on Saturday, January 5 with their next game at Redbourn Lane not until January 26.