Harps open with victory

Men In Black run in two tries at Imperial Medicals

HARPENDEN opened their account in the league with two well taken tries at Imperial Medics on Saturday.

The Men in Black started the game at a high tempo and created opportunities from the hard graft of the new centre combination of Kearns and Barton. From the kick off Harpenden showed their intention to play an expansive game by throwing the ball wide and looking for points.

Despite this, Medics scored first from a penalty indiscretion. The game sparked to life when Tennant’s pass found Kearns on a straight line before offloading to Payne, with Smith providing the finishing touch to a move which began deep inside Harpenden’s half. Barton added the extras, and moments later a similar move culminated in the goal kicker ripping through the Medic’s defense, only to be thwarted by some last-ditch tackling. Harpenden’s control of the game was not to go unrewarded, however, with a planned move off the base of the now-dominant scrum allowing Alan Barton to snipe his way through. A big shove by the combatant from row of Blake, Tennant and Lewin created space for Barton to show and go, and his tricky footwork and dummy was enough to give Harpenden a further 7 points. However, the Men in Black rested on their laurels and were punished by the quick-thinking Medics scrum half. A routine but quickly-taken penalty allowed the Medics nine to scramble fully 15 meters before offloading to the younger Codrington , who, despite the close attention of Singleton and Cornthwaite burrowed his way over out wide. The saying goes that “chance favours a prepared mind” (Steven Segal, Under Siege 1) and a pre-planned Medics blindside break off a scrum, culminated in a chip-and-chase. The older Codrington became the benefactor of Payne’s indecision and a lucky bounce (it was), and score a further 7 points with the final score of the half.

The introduction of Tom Hoare to the backrow and, more importantly the lineout visibly galvanized Harpenden. With the Men in Black playing down the slope and with the wind they set about playing a tighter, more controlled game, kicking the corners to ignite the lineout and focusing their runners on the 10/12 channel. An Ireland burst from a well-worked lineout created gaps in the Medics defense, and with Harpenden inching closer to the line an offside offered Barton the chance of 3 points, and the lead. Barton added the points and it was Medic’s turn t control the territory and possession for a while. With Medics deep in Harpenden’s half and knocking on the door, Harpenden reverted to pulling down the Medics driving maul. With three points on offer Medic’s kicked the goal that edged their noses in front. The game became disjointed and fractured, with neither team willing to take the initiative and risk being caught cold. With a little over 10 minutes remaining Harpenden introduced Rhodes and Longdon to the fray. With some dynamic short-drives from the latter providing Barton another shot at goal, Harpenden edged back in front. Back came Medics, but, to Harpenden’s fortune their kicked missed the chance at regaining the lead. As the minutes ticked away, Harpenden held firm and for all of their endeavor Medics couldn’t find the opening to retake the lead, with Harpenden taking the spoils 20-18.

Harpenden: Blake (Longdon 65), D Tennant, Lewin, Peck, Dumbleton, Singleton, Cornthwaite (Hoare 40), Ireland, A Barton, J Tennant, Muskett, J Barton, Kearns (Rhodes 65), Smith, Payne.