Perfect day for Harpenden puts them odds-on for promotion tilt

PUBLISHED: 10:33 11 March 2019

Harpenden V Belsize Park - Max Baggio in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden V Belsize Park - Max Baggio in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Archant

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.

Harpenden V Belsize Park - Oli Mann in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden V Belsize Park - Oli Mann in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

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.

Harpenden V Belsize Park - Fred Gulliford in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden V Belsize Park - Fred Gulliford in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

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.

Harpenden V Belsize Park - Tom Rolfe in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden V Belsize Park - Tom Rolfe in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

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.

Harpenden V Belsize Park - Oli Lacey in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden V Belsize Park - Oli Lacey in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

The success against Park came in a thrilling match that went right to the wire.

Harpenden V Belsize Park - Will Hales in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden V Belsize Park - Will Hales in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

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.

Harpenden V Belsize Park - Michael Goode in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden V Belsize Park - Michael Goode in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

They only had a successful Tom Sweeney penalty kick to show for it though, that arriving on 28 minutes.

Harpenden V Belsize Park - Oli Mann in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden V Belsize Park - Oli Mann in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

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.

Harpenden V Belsize Park - Tom Rolfe in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden V Belsize Park - Tom Rolfe in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

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.

Harpenden V Belsize Park - George Rolfe in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden V Belsize Park - George Rolfe in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

And it got better three minutes later when Max Baggio rounded off a sweet passing movement to touch down.

Harpenden V Belsize Park - Oli Lacey in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden V Belsize Park - Oli Lacey in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

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.

Harpenden V Belsize Park - Oli Lacey in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden V Belsize Park - Oli Lacey in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

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.

Harpenden V Belsize Park .


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden V Belsize Park . Picture: Karyn Haddon

The hosts held firm though and skipper Oli Lacey said: “This is a great win as we knew this would be a tough game.

Harpenden V Belsize Park - Fred Gulliford in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden V Belsize Park - Fred Gulliford in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

“Although we let them back into the match at times we worked really hard throughout the game and our defence was excellent.”

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