Battling Harpenden dig deep to see off challenge of old rivals Hampstead

Fred Gulliford scored one of the five Harpenden tries against Hampstead. Picture: KARYN HADDON

Fred Gulliford scored one of the five Harpenden tries against Hampstead. Picture: KARYN HADDON - Credit: Archant

Harpenden had to dig deep to clinch a 29-14 win over a resilient Hampstead side.

The two old-time rivals produced another hard fought and competitive fixture and it was only a fifth try in the closing stages that secured the Harpenden win.

The visitors took the lead on six minutes but Pete Sims, Fred Gulliford and Al Whittaker and two conversions from Tom Sweeney ensured Harpenden turned round 19-7 in front.

That advantage grew even further in the second minute after the break when Nick Childs collected his own kick ahead to secure the bonus point.

However, they then failed to build on the momentum as Hampstead came back strongly and the Londoners were duly rewarded with a try on 65 minutes from Alex Brooks.

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Some desperate Harpenden defence prevented a third Hampstead score and they were able to breathe a sigh of relief when Tom Rolfe dotted down three minutes from time.

Harps skipper Oli Lacey said: “This was a really mature performance because Hampstead turned up in a way that we did not expect.

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“We had to reset our game, slow things down and really fight to win control. I’m particularly pleased as we were forced to make a number of changes to the squad during the week and bring in four players for their debuts.”

Harpenden travel to Norwich of London Two North East on Saturday for the second round of the London & South East Intermediate Cup.

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