Gallery: First win of the new year for Harpenden

Collins goes over the line to score

Collins goes over the line to score - Credit: Archant

Harpenden secured their first win of 2014 with an emphatic bonus point victory over mid-table rivals Hampstead.

Wheatley holds off two tackles

Wheatley holds off two tackles - Credit: Archant

Their delight at notching up five tries was matched by their joy in preventing their opponents from touching down once, a marked contrast to the previous Saturday when they shipped in five tries against Chiswick.

Harps went ahead on five minutes when stand-off John Collins marked his return to the side by darting through the north Londoners’ defence for a sweetly worked try, which he duly converted.

On the quarter hour mark hooker Nick Chichester-Miles, another returnee, crashed over for Harps’ second try under a heap of bodies following a powerful rolling maul. Collins again converted.

Although Hampstead full back Dan Dimoline then pulled back the score to 14-3 with a penalty kick, Harps finished the half well in charge after centre Nick Childs had raced over on 37 minutes for their third try which came after the forwards had stolen the ball from a Hampstead throw-in at a line-out.

The early part of the second half was a far more even and somewhat dour affair as Hampstead came back into the game, aided partly by a number of mistakes by Harps, and they pulled back the score to 19-6 with another Dimoline penalty.

However, any thoughts the visitors may have harboured of an unlikely comeback were brutally snuffed out on 63 minutes when fullback Ashley Smith brought up the winning bonus point with Harps’ fourth try after a surging run.

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And shortly before the final whistle Childs grabbed Harps’ fifth – and his second – try. As with Smith’s score, it was converted by replacement centre Aaron Wilde, another player making a welcome return to the team, in his case after a lengthy absence.

Phil Cooper, first team coach, said: “I’m very happy indeed. The boys carried on the good work they had put in during the second half against Chiswick last week. They stuck to the game plan throughout and showed excellent commitment.

“It’s true that the early part of the second half was a difficult period for us, but our defence was good and I’m really pleased that we did not concede a single try.”

With a break this Saturday, Harps are next in league action on 8 February when they travel to Hammersmith and Fulham, where they will seek revenge for a 12-29 beating in October.

Harpenden: Smith, Stirling, Stagg, Childs, Thompson, Howard, Collins, G Rolfe, Chichester Miles, Lacey, Kent, T Rolfe, Greene, Jones, Wheatley. Replacements: Francis, Rickerty, Wilde.