Pride in defeat for Harpenden away to Eton Manor

PUBLISHED: 06:28 17 September 2019

Harpenden skipper Oli Lacey attempts to get to grips with Eton Manor's Jack Sullivan. Picture: MARTIN PEARL

Harpenden skipper Oli Lacey attempts to get to grips with Eton Manor's Jack Sullivan. Picture: MARTIN PEARL

Archant

Harpenden may have come up short away to Eton Manor but the performance was more than enough to keep the confidence high on their return to London One North.

Cameron Dutch on his way to scoring for Eton Manor against Harpenden. Picture: MARTIN PEARLCameron Dutch on his way to scoring for Eton Manor against Harpenden. Picture: MARTIN PEARL

They managed four converted tries and left east London with two valuable bonus points in the 30-28 defeat.

And coupled with last week's bonus-point win over Old Priorians it leaves Harps in fifth place in the fledgling table.

The hosts had started strongly at Nutter Lane and had Harps under pressure for the opening 15 minutes, a period that only brought them three points.

Harpenden then hit a purple patch, not long after being forced into a reshuffle in the back row following a bang to the head for Michael Goode.

Eton Manor's Jon Berry in action against Harpenden. Picture: MARTIN PEARLEton Manor's Jon Berry in action against Harpenden. Picture: MARTIN PEARL

Conor McClean bagged two tries in quick succession, each one following a succession of strong pick and drives by the forwards.

Tom Sweeney, deputising for regular fly-half Ollie Mann, was in good kicking form and would go on to land all four conversion attempts.

But hopes that Harpenden might capitalise on their momentum were not realised and Manor replied with a converted try of their own and a penalty to leave the visitors ahead by just one at the break.

Like the first, the second half started with Harps under pressure but this time the home side did grab a try and Harpenden's plans were thrown further into disarray when scrum-half Fred Gulliford was forced off after a couple of heavy knocks.

Henry Simcott got his first senior try for Harpenden but they fell just short against Eton Manor. Picture: DANNY LOOHenry Simcott got his first senior try for Harpenden but they fell just short against Eton Manor. Picture: DANNY LOO

Henry Simcott took over the role behind the scrum and although unaccustomed to that position, he was able to pick up from the base of a ruck and dart over for his first league try for the senior side.

Manor were still on top though and extended their lead to 30-21 with a seven-point try and penalty and just 10 minutes left on the clock.

Ryan Gue bagged the fourth try and a series of penalties allowed one shot at goal from half-way with the final kick.

Unfortunately it sailed wide and with it the victory.

Skipper Oli Lacey was still delighted with the effort though.

He said: "While obviously disappointed with the result I'm pleased with the general attitude displayed by the players. There are a lot of positives to take from the game."

Harps face Colchester, last year's runners-up, on Saturday.

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