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Injury-hit Hendon finish league campaign with a brave defeat

17:21 14 April 2014

John McCarthy touched down for Hendon and scored two conversions. Pic: Paolo Minoli

John McCarthy touched down for Hendon and scored two conversions. Pic: Paolo Minoli

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An injury-hit Hendon side ended Herts/Middlesex Division Two campaign with a 52-29 defeat which left them sixth in the final standings – but they scored five tries in a brave display.

Hendon only had one replacement and four of their players suffered injuries during the match. Two of them stayed on but the weakened and outnumbered team struggled to keep their hosts out.

Nevertheless, two tries from Judah Simpson and further scores from Harry Charles, John McCarthy and JP Cremin gave Hendon a bonus point and saw them heroically draw the second half – although they ultimately ended up one point behind fifth-placed Uxbridge in the table.

London Welsh scored a converted try after only three minutes as Hendon failed to tackle through the centre channel, and the same move gave the visitors a 14-0 lead. From the restart, Hendon winger Simpson collected the ball and ran around the stunned Welsh defence before passing inside for Charles, who touched down.

The Welsh attack could no longer penetrate through the middle so they switched to the wings, and they scored out wide in the 20th minute to establish a 21-5 advantage. Hendon then lost Adam Johnson and Mike Fawcett to injury and, since they had no-one to replace Fawcett, they conceded a further two tries before the break.

A handling error on the final play allowed Simpson to kick over the defence and race through to dot down, but the visitors went into the interval 33-10 down.

Johnson returned to play on the wing, despite being injured, and Cremin also picked up an injury but stayed on the field on the other flank.

London Welsh duly took advantage, touching down out wide, but Hendon rallied and remained in the home side’s 22 for a 10-minute spell before scrum-half McCarthy crashed over from five metres out to make it 38-15.

Hendon suffered yet another blow at the restart as second row Paul Geraghty collided with his opposite number and had to retire with concussion, leaving the visitors with 12 fit players and another two who were injured.

But, inside the last 15 minutes, winger Johnson kicked over with his good foot and, although the Welsh full-back collected, his mistimed pass to his centre allowed Cremin to pick up on the Welsh 22 and score, while McCarthy added the conversion.

Welsh immediately responded with a pushover try against the weakened Hendon pack, but the visitors then won a try against the head and their man of the match, Simpson, went over out wide, with McCarthy again adding the extras.

The game concluded with a controversial try as Welsh scored in the corner and, although the touch judge raised his flag to signal that the scorer had gone into touch, the referee overruled him.

Nonetheless, Hendon were able to reflect that they had drawn the second half with a depleted team.

The team are off duty over the Easter weekend but return for a cup fixture against Hackney on April 26 before the club host their record-breaking 60th 7s tournament on Sunday April 27. That is followed by the Middlesex Club 7s tournament on Sunday May 4.

In London North-West Division Two, Hampstead finished with a 57-21 home defeat against Chiswick, while relegated UCS Old Boys lost 78-17 at Beaconsfield.

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