Mature Harpenden rediscover winning form with superb display against Shelford

Tom Sweeney was in fine form with the boot as Harpenden beat Shelford at Redbourn Lane. Picture: DAN

Tom Sweeney was in fine form with the boot as Harpenden beat Shelford at Redbourn Lane. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: DANNY LOO

Harpenden skipper Oli Lacey hailed his side’s maturity as they produced their best display of the year to record a 30-13 home win over Shelford.

It was only the Redbourn Lane-based club's second win of the London One North campaign but after surrendering good positions in each of their last two games, this was the type of performance the second-row wanted to see.

Lacey said: "In our defeats against Eton Manor and Colchester we lost from winning positions but we showed the maturity and game management needed to finish the game off.

"Shelford are a good side but we were able to shut them down. The scrum did really well as did the backs and our defence ensured that we kept them until near the end.

"The good support we received also made a difference."

And with that large and vociferous crowd roaring them on Harpenden were in charge from the outset.

They went ahead in the seventh minute when number eight Adam Wheatley crashed over for a try after peeling off from the base of a ruck. Full-back Tom Sweeney added the extra points.

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Shelford hit back with a penalty from stand-off Lewis Cracknell three minutes later but Harps continued to boss the game, with the pack dominant in the tight and the loose and Wheatley in particular catching the eye with a number of powerful runs.

Sweeney added two further penalties on 21 and 28 minutes to give Harps a 13-3 lead at half-time and both he and Cracknell traded penalties in the seven minutes following the restart.

With the pack generally controlling affairs, the home side were awarded a penalty try on 50 minutes when Shelford illegally sought to halt a scrum surge on their five-metre line.

And Sweeney put the game completely beyond the Cambridge side's reach on 65 minutes by bursting through their defence to score under the posts and then adding the conversion.

Shelford continued to make a fight of it and were rewarded for their efforts near the end by a try from scrum-half Mike Gillick under the posts but by then the game was already lost.

The result keeps Harpenden in ninth but more importantly five points clear of the bottom three.

Harpenden's next game is back at Redbourn Lane on Saturday when they host Amersham and Chiltern in a 3pm kick-off.

Harpenden: Sweeney, Baggio, Tane, McLean, Hague-Blundy; Deane, Gulliford; McLoughlin, Sims, Campion, Whittaker, Lacey, Gue, Speirs, Wheatley. Replacements: McSporran, Rolfe, Wilkinson.