Winning run ends for gutsy Harpenden at Belsize Park

Fred Gulliford was one of a number who picked up knocks against Belsize Park. Picture: KEVIN LINES

Fred Gulliford was one of a number who picked up knocks against Belsize Park. Picture: KEVIN LINES - Credit: Archant

Harpenden’s recent upturn in form in London North West Two ended with a 26-18 defeat at Belsize Park.

The Redbourn Lane rugby club had won the previous four games, a run that had lifted them into fifth place.

But on a bitterly cold day in Regent’s Park even a gutsy performance was not enough as the hosts, sitting one place above Harpenden in the league, picked up the victory.

And a penalty inside the final 10 minutes denied Harps even a losing bonus point.

The sides shared a penalty each in the opening seven minutes, Harry Hutchins on target for the visitors. But the Belsize backs were looking sharp and a minute after Hutchin’s kick, they cut through the Harps backline for a converted score.

Harpenden were getting the better of the scrums, a trait which continued throughout the game, and this brought a couple of penalties during the course of the game.

From one such scrum close to the Belsize line, Ed Preston picked up and crossed the line, only to be held up.

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Adam Wilkinson had better luck though when he chased down a kick ahead and scored in the corner.

Hutchins was unlucky to strike the post from the right wing but it seemed Harpenden were back in the game.

Two more penalties stretched the home lead but just on half-time Hutchins got on the end of his own chip to score a second and the conversion put Harpenden just a point behind.

Harpenden were forced into a number of changes at the break but it didn’t harm Harpenden who took the lead for the first time with another Hutchins score.

However, further injuries to Nick Childs and Fred Gulliford did have an affect.

Belsize regained the lead on 55 minutes with a converted try that was driven over under the posts and then with less than 10 minutes to go, a further Belsize penalty from in front of the posts ended the scoring and any hopes of a losing bonus point. There was, however, better news for the second team who defeated Datchworth 2nds 21-15.

Harpenden’s next action is on January 28 when they host Enfield Ignatians.