Solid show from Harpenden to defeat Old Boys

HARPENDEN put in another solid performance in London Division Three North West on Saturday against a determined but ultimately one-dimensional UCS side.

London Three North West

Harpenden 26 UCS Old Boys 12

HARPENDEN put in another solid performance in London Division Three North West on Saturday against a determined but ultimately one-dimensional UCS side.

The conditions were always going to provide the biggest test of the day, with near gale-force winds blowing across the pitch and some unwelcome rain.

The extreme weather meant that the early stages of the game were played with some caution, with the visiting side putting pressure on the Harpenden defence without ever really threatening to break the deadlock.

It was Harpenden who struck first with a trademark break from Rob Humphreys to halfway where good support from Simon Smith and Alan Barton kept the momentum going. Some last gasp defence from UCS halted the attack but good work from the Harpenden pack provided quick ball for the backs to go down the left flank. The visiting defence had been breached and good fast handling meant that Rob Dumpleton was able to crash over in the right-hand corner. The conversion was missed but first blood had been drawn.

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UCS responded well to this and again drove deep into Harpenden territory. Persistent waves of attack through their pack eventually told as they crashed over for an unglamorous but vital score. This phase of play also led to Harpenden's John Arrowsmith spending 10 minutes in the sin bin for a cynical infringement. UCS kicked the extras to go into half time a surprising 7-5 up.

The second half started better for the home side as good disruptive play from Chichester-Miles, Read and Brown caused UCS to fumble possession. Rob Humphreys capitalised to dive over from a short distance and regain the lead for his side. The renewed energy from Harpenden was maintained as they again drove deep down the pitch and secured a line out. Accurate throwing from hooker Dan Tennant was well-secured by the front row and a powerful run from Andrew Read saw him score the third try of the afternoon. Jon Barton converted well against the wind to give his side a 19-7 lead.

A scrappy phase then followed with poor kicking from Harpenden allowing UCS into the game. They played some tight but effective rugby as they slowly edged nearer to the home side's line and their efforts were rewarded when they spun the ball wide and scored in the corner after some uncharacteristically disorganised defence.

This brought some excitement to the final 20 minutes of the game but Harpenden regrouped and sealed the victory with a fine try which resulted from some tidy handling from substitute Payne to find Kearns in some space. The full back took off down the touchline before putting a clever kick back infield to the chasing support. With Arrowsmith looking most likely to score the UCS defender opted to take him out off the ball, leaving the referee with little choice but to award a penalty try, giving Harpenden a 26-12 success.

Harpenden go away to London New Zealand in a tough fixture on Saturday, April 12.

Harpenden: Collins, D. Tennant, Kiff, Dumpleton, Brown, Chichester-Miles, Read, Arrowsmith, Humphreys, J. Barton, Smith, J. Tennant, A. Barton, Collin, Kearns, Hoare, Stevens, Payne.