Harpenden call the Sweeney to rescue the win over Old Merchant Taylors'

PUBLISHED: 10:01 11 January 2016 | UPDATED: 10:01 11 January 2016

Harpenden celebrate their try. Picture: KEVIN LINES

Harpenden celebrate their try. Picture: KEVIN LINES

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Three second-half penalties by Tom Sweeney and a solitary try from Brian Staff gave Harpenden Rugby Club a hard-fought 14-0 win over Old Merchant Taylors'.

The win keeps Harpenden in fifth place in the London North West Two table and still in contention for promotion, but wasn’t the free-flowing expansive game some hoped for.

The conditions played their part, with the odd puddle dotted around the Redbourn Land pitch, but credit must go to the visitors, who will feel aggrieved not to have come away with at least a losing bonus point.

OMT probably had the better of a scoreless first-half and it needed some strong words from the Harps coaching staff at the break to bring the breakthrough.

Forwards coach Dave Hynard felt they had been too sloppy in the first 40 minutes.

He said: “We didn’t look after the ball well enough. We lost it in contact after second and third phase and spilled it in the line-outs.

“But we knew we would break them down if we maintained our shape a bit better.

“We had a chat at half time and went back to basics, looking after the ball better.

“We knew pick and go’s were going to be effective, which they proved to be, but ultimately we knew we had to be playing in better parts of the pitch.”

The changes had the desired effect, with the pace of the game, as well as the individual errors and penalty count, increasing.

Sweeney kicked his first four minutes after the restart before adding his second five minutes later after the referee decided there was a late hit in the play.

His third on 57 minutes came as OMT picked up a yellow card, and it was as this period was expiring that Harpenden scored their only try.

Staff, who had only started due to an injury to captain Michael Goode, bounced off a number of would-be tacklers before crossing to the left of the posts.

OMT looked much better than their league position would say and thought they had scored an all-important try with minutes remaining.

Unfortunately for them they were held up and time ran out.

The next two weeks could make or break Harpenden’s season as they face up to Fullerians and Hampstead, two of the teams above them.

But Hynard thinks promotion is still very much on the cards.

“We’ve got a good squad and there’s a good atmosphere. With the right mindset, we can get a result.

“We haven’t set any targets for ourselves but we’re looking to get as high up the league as we can.

“If we are in the mix at the top end of the table then excellent, that’s where we strive to be.”

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