Harpenden hop back up the table with bonus-point win
PUBLISHED: 11:22 06 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:23 06 December 2018
A bonus-point win at home to Grasshoppers moved Harpenden back into the top three at the top of London Two North West.
But although they were ahead for most of the game, the west Londoners belied their lowly league position by repeatedly coming back at them and it was only after Harps scored their fourth try with 10 minutes to go that the 32-27 victory was virtually assured.
Skipper Oli Lacey said: “We played well for large parts of the game and we’re delighted with the win, although we are a little disappointed to have conceded so many points.”
Playing in a special jersey to support Stonewall UK’s Rainbow Laces campaign, Harps went on the attack from the outset and were quickly rewarded when tight-head prop Ben Campion went over for a try after just four minutes.
The Londoners hit back with a try of their own from centre Sean Connor on eight minutes before Harps stand-off Tom Sweeney kicked two long-range penalties to give them an 11-7 lead.
Thanks to the pack scrummaging and mauling well, the Harpenden backs were getting plenty of good ball.
And with centres Nick Childs and Tagen Strydom running hard and straight, plus powerful right wing Joe Onyuma catching the eye on his home debut, it was no surprise when Adam Wilkinson touched down on 30 minutes.
Sweeney added the extra points.
Poor defence allowed Grasshoppers to reduce the deficit with a try from Jack Jones on 35 minutes but the hosts ended the half back in command when they awarded them a penalty try just before the break.
A positive start to the second period from the home side looked like giving Harps a comfortable success but they were left to rue a series of missed opportunities when Connor scored his second try for the visitors on 56 minutes.
And when Grasshoppers landed a penalty three minutes later, Harpenden’s lead was just five points.
The scores jolted the hosts back to life and with 10 minutes to go a second penalty try brought the bonus point and eased the nerves.
And the only further score came on the very last play when Connor got his third try, and his side’s fourth, to clinch two bonus points of their own.
The success moves them ahead of Welwyn and facing a trip to Hackney on Saturday.