GALLERY: Harpenden's promotion charge goes down to the final day
PUBLISHED: 15:58 30 March 2015 | UPDATED: 15:58 30 March 2015
Harpenden produced one of the best performances of the season as they defeated top of league, Harrow, 39-23 on a blustery afternoon at Redbourn Lane.
Matt Davies’ side jumped up to third in London Two North West and could be promoted on the final day of the season on April 11. Harpenden will have to travel to Old Haberdashers and should they win and Chiswick draw or lose against Tabard, they will earn a play-off spot for the right to compete in London 1 North next season.
Harpenden put themselves in the position with an excellent win over champions elect Harrow.
Davies said: “I felt for the majority of the game we were the better team. We were able to dominate in the key areas. Our set pieces went very well, we carried well and kick intelligently, in particularly in the first half when we had the wind.”
“We showed a lot of fire power, heart and will to win.”
“Michael Goode was very good but also Ed Preston back in the team after four weeks of not being around. He put a real shift in. Tom Rolfe also had a cracking game. He did a lot of work at flanker which went unseen.”
Early penalties for both sides was followed by the first try of the game for the visitors as Rob Franklin barrelled over from a packed maul. However it was not long before Harpenden started to show some attacking play themselves as fly-half, Aaron Wilde dropped the shoulder and darted through middle of Harrow’s defence. Unfortunately for Harpenden, Wilde sustained an injury from the tackle and had to be taken off, which saw Nic Childs come on and Tom Stagg move to fly-half.
Both sides were strong in defence, especially at the breakdown, forcing multiple phases in the middle third of the pitch. As the half progressed Harpenden’s forwards were finding their feet and were able to make good headway. Some intelligent play from scrum half, John Collins who fired a long distance pass to Ed Preston saw Harpenden get within touching distance of Harrow’s try line. From here the ball was recycled and Michael Goode went under the posts for his first of the afternoon which Tom Sweeney converted.
With half-time approaching Harpenden were now starting to dominate proceedings. Tom Rolfe came agonizingly close as he was held up over the line but a few phases later Michael Goode was able to get over again. Sweeney converted and Harpenden went into half-time leading 20-10.
Straight from the break Harpenden continued to dominate. A beautifully placed kick from Collins deep into the opposition half, forced a get-out-jail hoof from Franklin. The lineout that followed enabled Harpenden to set up a driving maul and release David Green to go over and score Harpenden’s third try of the afternoon.
A few penalties later Harrow were able to reduce the deficit to nine but Harpenden’s backs were in full flow and some slick hands within Harrow’s twenty two saw Preston go over and give Harpenden another converted try. Harpenden were full of confidence going into the final quarter of the game most notably with an exhilarating forty yard run from Adam Stirling down the wing. Goode then made it a hat-trick for the afternoon when he jumped onto a loose ball from the scrum. It was a chaotic last ten minutes for Harrow as they lost two men to the sin-bin following off the ball incidents but was improved with a conciliation try near the end.
However take nothing away from Harpenden. This was a thrilling performance and one they will take great confidence from going into the latter stages of the season. Led by the forwards they defeated top of the league with an emphatic all round display.