Payne try takes Men in Black close to dramatic recovery
London Three North West London New Zealand 13 Harpenden 7 THE Men in Black fielded a weakened team for their penultimate game of the season away against a London New Zealand side who were fighting for promotion.
London Three North West
London New Zealand 13 Harpenden 7
THE Men in Black fielded a weakened team for their penultimate game of the season away against a London New Zealand side who were fighting for promotion.
With Harpenden skirmishing to keep out their southern hemisphere counterparts, their back row began to increase their control on proceedings with Tom Hoare and Andy Brown influential on the floor.
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The home fly half used his skills to force Harpenden back and they relied on some enterprising play by Alan Barton and Richard Kearns to stem the tide.
London NZ finally broke through following a charge down and led 7-0 at the break, Harpenden's expansive backline struggling against a well-drilled if excitable NZ defence.
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The second half offered some relief for the Men in Black, with Jonny Barton crunching into tackles and regaining his kicking boots. Pat Collins and Rob Dumpleton in the tight began to enjoy some supremacy over their counterparts as Arrowsmith and Peck began to make some big ball carries up the middle.
Harpenden were eventually punished for indiscretions at the break down with London NZ kicking two penalties to lead 13-0.
The introduction of Evans, Chichester-Miles and Long added impetus to Harpenden and, with the workman-like performance from Dumpleton and Brown producing little in the way of opportunities, it was left to the former to create his own piece of magic. Taking an acute line between the Kiwi defenders, the second row chipped and rounded the full back, only to be thwarted by an over-eager whistle.
With 10 minutes remaining, another aslant run by Arrowsmith resulted in an offload to winger Simon Payne who punched a hole and outpaced the covering defence to score a well-worked team try. The conversion was added and Harpenden found themselves back in the game.
A smart chip by fly half Barton was collected by his brother, Alan, who produced another fine all-round display and cantered around his man but was effectively hauled down just short. Harpenden span the ball wide and gained a crucial penalty but diligent defence from the Kiwis kept them out.
Harpenden: J. Hoare, D. Tennant, Collins, T. Hoare, Peck, Arrowsmith, Brown, Dumpleton, Morgan, J. Barton, J. Tennant, A. Barton, Smith, Payne, Kearns. Subs; Long, Chichester-Miles, Evans.
On Sunday, April 20, Harpenden Under 17s play their National semi final at Henley RFC, kick off 2.30pm. The whole club will be turning out to support the brilliant young squad and for more information call John Hills on 07785 960353, David Singleton on 07775 582900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Supporters can also call in at the club at Redbourn Lane on Saturday.