‘Erroneous’ call ends Harpenden U17s’ National Cup hopes

Harpenden U17s show their disappointment after losing to Sevenoaks.

Harpenden U17s show their disappointment after losing to Sevenoaks. - Credit: Archant

Harpenden RFC’s U17s National Cup dream, and a chance to play at Allianz Park, ended at Medway on Saturday as they were beaten by Sevenoaks 22-10.

Harps had beaten Upminster two weeks ago to book a spot in the South East of England Cup final and travelled to Medway with not only a trophy on the line but a spot in the National Cup semi-final as well.

The game started at quite a pace with a ferocious wind making conditions very difficult for both sides.

A catch and drive from Sevenoaks led to the first score of the match but Harpenden replied to take the lead. Fraser Peglar was the architect as he burst through Sevenoaks’ centres to dot down. Tim Bitirim added the extras and Harpenden were in the lead, 7-5.

Sevenoaks were awarded and successfully converted a penalty to move ahead but Bitirim split the uprights with a kick of his own to put Harpenden back in front.

In the second half Harpenden’s lead was not a large enough cushion to cope with the excessive number of penalty kicks they conceded. Following a series of three successful penalty kicks, Sevenoaks found themselves going into the final minutes of the match with a seven-point advantage.

The pressure on the home team was immense since Harpenden needed only to level the scores and win the match on try count.

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With approximately four minutes remaining Harpenden piled on the tension and seemed likely to run through the Sevenoaks defence with four players facing just the one defender, but the referee had other ideas, bringing the play to a halt for an injury to a player that never was.

Any hope of an appearance by Harpenden in the National Cup final disappated with an ‘erroneous’ decision, leaving coach Will Hutchins and his players feeling ‘gutted’.

Then to rub salt into the wound, Sevenoaks took advantage of Harpenden’s brief lack of concentration to score a try at the end of the match to put gloss on the scoreline.