Harpenden start new adventure with emphatic win over Old Priorians

PUBLISHED: 06:42 12 September 2019

Tom Sweeney of Harpenden RUFC looks to offload in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

Tom Sweeney of Harpenden RUFC looks to offload in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2019 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

Harpenden may have been promoted to a higher league but there were no first day nerves as they powered to an emphatic seven-try victory at home to Old Priorians.

Henry Simcott of Harpenden RUFC reaches for a tackle in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOOHenry Simcott of Harpenden RUFC reaches for a tackle in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

The 47-5 success against the west Londoners in London One North came courtesy of a powerful pack providing a new and exciting backline with plenty of attacking opportunities, which they gobbled up with glee.

Ben Campion and Sean McLoughlin of Harpenden RUFC make a tackle in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOOBen Campion and Sean McLoughlin of Harpenden RUFC make a tackle in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

There were two tries for Max Baggio while the newly-returned Bobby Tane, Tom Sweeney and Ollie Mann also crossed the whitewash.

Tom Rolfe of Harpenden RUFC makes a tackle in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOOTom Rolfe of Harpenden RUFC makes a tackle in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

Sweeney missed with just one of his seven conversion attempts.

Michael Goode of Harpenden RUFC dives to try and block a kick in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOOMichael Goode of Harpenden RUFC dives to try and block a kick in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

While naturally happy with the tries scored, jubilant skipper Oli Lacey praised the defensive aspects of his team's game.

Henry Simcott of Harpenden RUFC reaches for a tackle in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOOHenry Simcott of Harpenden RUFC reaches for a tackle in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

He said: "We were confident before the game of getting a result because we knew we had the power up front and were bolstered by new players coming into the back-line.

Matt Deane of Harpenden RUFC holds on in the tackle in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOOMatt Deane of Harpenden RUFC holds on in the tackle in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

"But it was our defence that won us the game because at 14-0 it still could have gone either way."

Ed Preston of Harpenden RUFC carries the ball forward in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOOEd Preston of Harpenden RUFC carries the ball forward in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

After cagey opening exchanges in which neither side was able to dominate, Deane broke the deadlock on 15 minutes when he raced on to a Tane pass to touch down near the posts.

Ollie Lacey (c) of Harpenden RUFC carries the ball forward in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOOOllie Lacey (c) of Harpenden RUFC carries the ball forward in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

And three minutes later Tane, back at Harpenden after a year in Spain, went over in the left-hand corner after a great break by teenage winger Henry Simcott.

Bobby Tane of Harpenden RUFC goes over to score in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOOBobby Tane of Harpenden RUFC goes over to score in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

Priorians fought desperately to get back into the game but despite enjoying plenty of possession and territory, fantastic defence by Harps kept them out and preserved the 14-0 half-time lead.

Henry Simcott of Harpenden RUFC gets past his opponent in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOOHenry Simcott of Harpenden RUFC gets past his opponent in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

Five minutes into the second half Sweeney scored the try of the day, racing 70 metres after OPs had spilled possession deep inside the hosts' 22.

Miles Lear and Bobby Tane of Harpenden RUFC combine in a tackle in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOOMiles Lear and Bobby Tane of Harpenden RUFC combine in a tackle in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

And eight minutes later right-wing Baggio brought up the try bonus point when he touched down following another break by the impressive Deane.

Matt Deane of Harpenden RUFC celebrates in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOOMatt Deane of Harpenden RUFC celebrates in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

Deane got his second try on 65 minutes after a fine run by Tom Stagg and shortly afterwards Baggio touched down for his second and Harps' sixth try after another Deane break.

Matt Deane of Harpenden RUFC gets away from his tackle to score in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOOMatt Deane of Harpenden RUFC gets away from his tackle to score in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

OPs, who had continued to battle hard, were finally rewarded with a try on 77 minutes by hooker Ben Ridley.

Matt Deane of Harpenden RUFC gets away from his tackle to score in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOOMatt Deane of Harpenden RUFC gets away from his tackle to score in the match between Harpenden v Old Priorians. Picture: DANNY LOO

But the last word belonged to Harpenden when Mann capped a superb display with a try under the posts in the final play of the game.

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