Gallery: St Albans and Harpenden in low-scoring draw
PUBLISHED: 14:28 16 December 2013 | UPDATED: 14:01 17 December 2013
Harpenden and St Albans cancelled each other out in the latest instalment of their London 2 North West rivalry in a game that finished 3-3.
Harpenden won the first meeting of the teams 18-8 and Saturday’s encounter turned out to be unusually short on points though, in the main, it produced an entertaining match in which both sides played their part.
The outcome was always in doubt until the referee’s final whistle but a draw was a fair reflection of play.
Harpenden’s speedy wing Adam Stirling was unavailable and Pete Sims stood in for Jackson Cooper-Wall at hooker, whilst the dependable Charlie Howard and Joe Tennnant played at scrum-half and fly-half, respectively.
The morning started out in sunshine and the cloudless, blue sky hinted that it would be a day for attacking rugby when the backs could show off their skills.
As it transpired, the defences on both sides didn’t allow play to continue for too many phases before the referee stepped in with an award for a scrum or a lineout. Furthermore, some of the passing was erratic, in particular from St Albans in the early stages, which led to a stop-start game.
The story of the second half was similar to the first - a tale of lost opportunities - but Harpenden stood firm, although they irritated their supporters by continuing to give away too many careless and unnecessary penalties.
St Albans, on the other hand, were disappointing their fans with a proliferation of misdirected passes that hindered their progress. Whether it was the wind or Harpenden’s speed in the tackle the St Albans backs were unable to go very far before coming across a defensive wall.
Ignoring earlier appeals from the Harpenden coaches for offside offences at the scrum, the match referee finally awarded a kickable penalty approximately 30 metres out in front of the St Albans’ posts.
The chance of going ahead with an easy kick to goal was spurned when a Harpenden player took an unnecessary gamble with a quickly taken tap penalty. Immediately, he was enveloped in a sea of blue and yellow and his efforts came to an unsatisfactory conclusion. Soon after, the half-time blew after a first 45 that seemed to have flown by.
The second half was as tight as the first with the Harpenden pack displaying its strength. The combination of Zak Kent and Simon McGee in the second row had been a success and Mike Goode and his back row partners of Ed Preston and Adam Wheatley comprised a formidable combination.
Mid-way through the half, an injury to John Collins’ shoulder forced him to leave the pitch and he joined prop George Rolfe on the list of injured players.
On 62 minutes the stalemate was broken when, to the resounding cheers of his supporters, Jack Haddock scored with a fine penalty kick. The joy was short-lived as St Alban’s fullback, Mark Kentish, who had a good game, replied in similar fashion.
Harpenden man of the match was Ed Preston while St Albans’ Justin Joubert and Mark Kentish stood out as their team’s best players.