Harpenden find form to scare runaway leaders
London Three North West Harpenden 5 Stevenage 12 THE Men in Black took on league leaders Stevenage on Saturday facing a tough start to the year. With a good crowd behind them at Redbourn Lane and a bustling atmosphere despite the arctic temperatures, Harp
London Three North West
Harpenden 5 Stevenage 12
THE Men in Black took on league leaders Stevenage on Saturday facing a tough start to the year.
With a good crowd behind them at Redbourn Lane and a bustling atmosphere despite the arctic temperatures, Harpenden started brightly and won a penalty after a period of sustained pressure in Stevenage territory. Unfortunately for the hosts, fly half Jonny Barton was unable to convert the points from a difficult angle in blustery conditions.
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Harpenden's domination of the first exchanges did not go unrewarded and, with a great sustained effort from the pack, good field position was attained. The forwards' efforts were duly rewarded as a piece of quick thinking from full back Simon Payne resulted in a quick line out. This allowed Ben Allerton to make impressive yards up the touch line before offloading to Andrew Reid who showed excellent strength to reach the line. Some enterprising backs moves by the home side saw young Saracens winger Tom Colin use his speed to ensure Stevenage where kept on the back foot.
As the half continued, Stevenage began to show why they have remained undefeated this season as their forwards began to control the pace of the game. Indeed, it was the power of the Stevenage pack that allowed them to make a break up the blindside and pull the scores even at 5-5 at half time.
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The second half heralded a change of pitch, due to an earlier injury and, with the game well poised, both sides made headway into each others territory. By far the most exciting play of the half came when an offload from Harpenden skipper Joe Tennant found full back Payne on a good line to make one of few line breaks made by either side all afternoon.
As the half continued, Stevenage's pack gained the ascendancy and began to give the visitors a significant territorial advantage. Only the huge defensive effort from all 15 men in black stopped Stevenage gaining any room to breathe.
Despite Harpenden's gallant efforts, a sustained period of pressure and some well executed forward play earned Stevenage a converted try with 10 minutes to go.
A huge effort from the Men in Black ensued which was counted by some very savvy 10-man rugby from the league leaders. Despite the huge team effort, Harpenden could not come back from and the final whistle drew an end to an impressive physical spectacle with Stevenage the relieved victors winning 12-5 in a match that could have gone either way.
Harpenden can take a lot away from the game and looked to be very close to hitting their traditional post Christmas rich vein of form. The next league fixture is on Saturday against Vauxhall Motors. Harpenden will be hoping for strong support for what promises to be an exciting game of rugby played in a great family atmosphere.
Harpenden: Kiff, Tennant D, Peck, Hoare, Lewis, Allerton, Arrowsmith, Adams, Barton A, Barton J, Tennant J, Kearns, Reed, Colin, Payne. Subs: Whyatt, Dumpleton, Evans.