Harps lose perfect record
West London come out on top at Redbourn Lane
London 2 NW
Harpenden 9 West London 12
THERE were two lotteries at Redbourn Lane over the weekend.
One involved Daisy, a 600 kilo cow, the other was the tackle area of the Harpenden v West London game.
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The Men in Black, off the back of three straight wins, began the game poorly perhaps owing to a series of reshuffles to the pack and indeed the backline.
In stark contrast, West London began the game on the front foot and never really looked back. West London played a slick, neat, off-loading game, close to the ruck area and found this to be an excellent source of both momentum and territory.
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Harpenden failed to come to terms with the tackle area and were subsequently penalized a number of times.
Only some wayward kicking from West’s goal kicker saved Harpenden from a massive deluge of points. Similarly last-ditch defending from Smith, Cornthwaite and Barton prevented almost certain tries.
But the Men in Black held on, despite their inherent lack of possession and territory. With Messer’s Hoare, Peck and Green all spending some quality time in the sin-bin, Harpenden struggled for any kind of fluency or purpose. In spite of their numerical disadvantage Harpenden’s remaining pack members performed admirably, winning their own scrums and lineouts with aplomb.
West London also felt the full force of the man in the middle’s new whistle, with two of their kinsmen off to the bin for purported breakdown offences.
With the crowd expecting points, Harpenden’s own metronome Jonny Barton, produced two well-taken kicks to open up a gap that belied West’s near-total dominance.
Regardless, Harpenden fought on and indeed themselves.
Giving away a litany of needless and inconsistent penalties at inopportune times. With both sides up to a full complement of players, some rugby began to be played by both sides.
Kearns produced a neat show-and-go, slicing through West’s centers but failing to spot the overlap provided by Haddock, Harpenden’s only real backline-led attack petered out to nothing.
Indeed, a notable lack of cohesion between the Harpenden backs and forwards gave West London a gilt-edged chance from which they converted. Slick handling from their three-quarters and a series of missed tackles gave winger Smith no chance.
West gratefully clutched the opportunity, and despite another miss from their kicker, they remained in the ascendency. Steeled by some strong words, Harpenden marched up the pitch, and thanks to some excellent interplay by Cornthwaite, Jali and Peck found themselves deep into West London terrain.
Alas, for all their endeavor and gusto Harpenden failed to find that chink in West’s armor to enable them the telling score.
Barton went close, as did Tennant, but the former dusted himself off to slot the three points on offer from a further West London infringement.
The game exploded into life, with Harpenden beginning to finally assert themselves in the loose phases of play, Hoare and Macca forcing the issue and trying to ignite the dying embers.
Hoare’s over-enthusiasm cost the Harpenden No.8 a second yellow card, and the opportunity to take an early shower, of which many were envious.
However, his teammates suffered from the inevitable onslaught, and so it proved with West London driving their way over from inches out visibly deflating Harpenden ambitions.
Despite this setback, Harpenden upped the ante and another infringement by the West London flanker enabled Barton with a long-range attempt to give Harpenden an undeserved win. It wasn’t to be, with the kick falling just short.
In truth, if Harpenden would have snatched the victory it would have been truly undeserved.
Harpenden: Jail, Tennant D, Blake, Peck, Cornthwaite, Watkins, Green, Ireland, Barton A, Tennant J �, Kearns, Barton J, Smith, Haddock, Payne.
Reps: Macca for Watkins (45s), Hoare for Ireland (3) and Francis for Haddock (65).