Harpenden’s win over Hampstead hailed as ‘one of the best’ results this season
PUBLISHED: 18:47 18 February 2017 | UPDATED: 18:47 18 February 2017
Harpenden skipper Oli Lacey said the 16-11 home victory over Hampstead was arguably their best performance of the season.
Tries from Pete Sims and Luke Barber, together with two penalties for Tom Stagg was enough to cement Harps’ fifth position in London North West Two, and put a dagger through Hampstead’s own promotion hopes.
Lacey said: “I think we’re happy with we’re we are now. It wasn’t a good start to the season but we’ve turned it around and had some good results, with this one being one of the best ones.
“I think this is the first time we’ve had a good result against one of the top three teams so hopefully we can push on and get a good result against HAC in a couple of weeks [March 11].
“In terms where we want to be in the league we’re targetting fourth and this is a real confidence booster for us.
“The main difference today was heart but having that home support helped. Our decision making wasn’t at its best but that defence and everyone putting their body on the line, I was impressed with that.”
The win wasn’t without its worries as Hampstead mounting a late charge inside the final 20 minutes, getting their only try of the game in that period.
But Harpenden hung on for the win.
In truth there was little between the two teams at a sunny Redbourn Lane in what was a brutal contest.
With extremely hard hits coming in from both sides, knocks were expected but the visitors were the ones with the most battered bodies.
Their three replacements were all on the field within 30 minutes, with their influential skipper Dan Dumoline and Pete Wood two of the men who had to go off.
Stagg kicked Harpenden into an early lead which was cancelled out by the first of Ed Doe’s penalties.
Hampstead almost engineered an overlap inside the hosts’ 22 shortly after but that was the start of the opening try. Remarkably though it came from Harpenden.
A knock-on by the men in maroon was ran all the way back to the five-metre line.
And a fine catch and drive from the ensuing line-out saw Sims the one to emerge with the ball.
Doe kicked a second penalty to reduce the gap before half-time but after a bright opening to the second period by the visitors, Harpenden stretched their lead through another Stagg penalty.
Max Baggio almost slalomed his way in but a scrum was their only reward when most in the home crowd thought a penalty try should have been awarded.
It didn’t matter as another catch and drive saw almost the whole team join in the push. Luke Barber didn’t however and it was he who made the short dash over the line when the ball popped out.
That stung Hampstead into action and only firm defence from Harpenden held them out.
Doe missed a kick from in front of the posts but the pressure kept coming and Alex Brooks got onto the end of a kick ahead to bring them within five.
But time was the enemy and despite winning the ball back, the clock ran down before they could finish off the comeback.
Harpenden now have two weeks off before heading to near neighbours Welwyn on March 4.