Perfect day for Harpenden puts them odds-on for promotion tilt
PUBLISHED: 10:33 11 March 2019
I’m not sure how Carlsberg do weekends but they would have to go some to beat an almost perfect Saturday for Harpenden Rugby Club.
They produced probably their most important victory of the season with a 22-19 success downing London Two North West leaders Belsize Park at a delighted Redbourn Lane.
But it got better on their return to the dressing room as news filtered through of third-placed Chiswick’s surprise loss at relegation-threatened Enfield Ignatians.
All that means that while they could not usurp the north Londoners from the top of the tree, they are now eight points clear in the race for promotion and know that two wins from their final two games would guarantee them a play-off place at the very least.
The success against Park came in a thrilling match that went right to the wire.
With a strong wind gusting over the ground, Harpenden’s scrum was in fabulous form, allowing them to monopolise both territory and possession for the first half hour.
They only had a successful Tom Sweeney penalty kick to show for it though, that arriving on 28 minutes.
And they were behind by the break. Number eight Michael Goode had already limped off before Nick Childs was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle and Belsize seized the initiative, scoring a try through hooker Harrison George that was duly converted.
The interval allowed Harps to regroup and they went back in front 10 minutes after the restart with a try from flanker Ryan Gue, converted by Sweeney.
And it got better three minutes later when Max Baggio rounded off a sweet passing movement to touch down.
Almost immediately the Londoners hit back with a converted try from Chris Stark to take the score to 15-14 but on 65 minutes Harps centre Adam Wilkinson touched down under the post for a superb try, which was converted by Sweeney.
Park reduced the arrears to just three with a try from wing Josh Yerrell with 10 minutes to go and fired up by the score, they put Harpenden under severe pressure.
The hosts held firm though and skipper Oli Lacey said: “This is a great win as we knew this would be a tough game.
“Although we let them back into the match at times we worked really hard throughout the game and our defence was excellent.”