Harpenden have a “fight” to stave off relegation

HARPENDEN have a “backs-to-the-wall” fight to stay in the London 2 North West League, according to the team coach.

A determined second half fight back was not quite enough to snatch victory in a tense battle against Hammersmith and Fulham and leaves Harpenden precariously above the teams below them.

The bottom five teams are separated by just 12 points with three games left, and unfortunately for Harpenden their run-in couldn’t be harder – they play the top three clubs.

After the game a frustrated James Alvis, coach, said: “I applaud the boys for their effort and heart, but the fact is we now face a real backs-to-the-wall fight over the next few weeks to ensure we stay up which means that we need every one in the squad to help out.”

Harps begun brightly and deservedly went ahead on eight minutes with a Tom Muskett penalty in front of the posts after a darting run by scrum-half Alan Barton had taken them deep into the visitors’ half.

But Hammersmith and Fulham went ahead on 15 minutes after working the ball wide to centre Warwick Percival who touched down in the left corner.

And with Harpenden’s lineout and scrum coming under increasing pressure, they doubled their lead on 30 minutes when lock James Roache went over for a try in the opposite corner.

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Only desperate defending by Harpenden prevented a further score before the break.

Whatever coach Alvis said during the interval certainly seem to work because Harpenden came back strongly and for 15 minutes the visitors were unable to get out of their half.

The pressure was finally turned into points on 55 minutes when lock Simon McGhee was forced over the line after a classic catch and drive from a line out on the five-metre line.

It was then the turn of the Londoners to come back and they were rewarded with a well struck penalty on 70 minutes.

Harpenden rallied once again, but, despite having virtually all the ball in the closing minutes, they just could not find a way to breach the visitors’ defence.

For the second week running Harpenden had to settle for a losing bonus point, which, games against runaway league leaders Tabard and second-placed Hemel Hempstead, might prove vital in helping to secure their London North West Two status for another season.

Harpenden host third-placed Chiswick on Saturday.