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Belsize Park pass their Medicals examination with flying colours

18:08 18 March 2014

League leaders Belsize Park (in purple) beat Haringey Rhinos 34-14 in November. The two sides meet again on Saturday, with all to play for at both ends of the table. Pic: Tony Gay

League leaders Belsize Park (in purple) beat Haringey Rhinos 34-14 in November. The two sides meet again on Saturday, with all to play for at both ends of the table. Pic: Tony Gay

TONY GAY at tonephote@aol.com

Belsize Park ruthlessly dispatched Imperial Medicals on Saturday, running in 10 tries and not conceding a single point to win 62-0 and record a bonus-point victory that extended their lead at the top of Herts/Middlesex Division One.

Chris Perkins, Arnaud Couffin and Guy Parker all touched down twice, and Stephen Eustace, Adam Caines, Seb Dunnett and captain Fred House also crossed the line in a comprehensive triumph.

“It was an imperious performance across the park,” said House. “The boys played their hearts out for 80 minutes and really wanted to put out a reminder that we a good side and hungry to get better.”

With three games remaining and the top two teams being promoted, BP are seven points clear of Hackney and 11 points ahead of third-placed Kilburn Cosmos – although both persuers have a game in hand.

Having thrashed the basement boys on Saturday, Belsize will fancy their chances of beating 11th-placed Haringey Rhinos at home this weekend.

That could be enough to secure promotion, if Kilburn slip up against Royston. However, the leaders must be wary of complacency because Haringey have launched a late bid for survival.

Having won just one of their first 16 league games, the Rhinos have now triumphed in their last two matches, leaving them eight points from safety and with all to play for.

BP had thrashed Imperial 106-0 in their previous meeting and they took an early lead on Saturday, with Dunnett supporting Nick Lewis and Irishman Stephen Eustace finishing in the left corner.

The second score was a little while in coming as the Imperial side defended passionately and organised themselves well. The visitors had a good line-out but their lack of size permitted Belsize to dominate at scrum time.

Big carries from George Hazlett, George Randall and House showed the attacking intent of the forwards, and this was supplemented by excellent defence around the fringes from Adam French the rejuvenated openside James Berry.

That meant that Imperial had to move the ball wide to their big outside backs, but ‘Chopper’ Oakes and Chris ‘Wrecking Ball’ Perkins tackled everything that came near them.

Perkins was seen to make three tackles in a row and won a turnover on the halfway line. When the ball spilled out of the side of the ruck, flying Finsbury Park lock Caines scooped it up with one paw and opened his legs, outpacing the winger and stepping past the full-back to score under the posts.

Such an exertion was too much for the big man, however, and his hamstring went so he made way for the gritty Nathan Thoday.

The final try of the first half was scored after Belsize were camped on the Imperial line - and some slick hands put Perkins over in the right corner for the first of his two scores.

In the second half Belsize put more phases together and squeezed the Imperial side. Some inventive angles and hard running from French flyer Arnaud Couffin reminded Belsize of what they will be missing in the latter stages of the competition, and he scored two memorable tries, running in from 40 yards for his second.

Some intriguing tactics from the Imperial No9 then led to a superb Guy Parker try – one of his two scores on the day.

The visiting scrum-half took a quick tap penalty and booted the ball straight down the field to the Belsize full-back, who gathered it just outside his 22, beat the first two men and then kicked downfield, beating two men in a sprint to touch down.

Man of the match Dunnett punctuated the half with aggressive running, tackling and speed that set the benchmark for the afternoon - and he was rewarded with a try while he also made one for House, who was wearing the No6 jersey once again.

With Richard Wilson’s kicks adding the gloss to the scoreline, Belsize racked up their 16th victory from 17 league games and will go into their duel against Haringey full of confidence.

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