Miller makes sure Haringey Rhinos are still fighting in relegation battle
16:29 12 March 2014
TONY GAY at email@example.com
Olly Miller scored the winning try as Haringey Rhinos came from behind to climb off the bottom of the table with a 20-15 home win over Verulamians in Herts/Middlesex Division One.
Haringey had suffered a hammer blow to their survival hopes the previous weekend when they were defeated 44-22 in a basement battle away at Imperial Medicals.
They faced a tough test against Verulamians – a side who had upset the league leaders Belsize Park in their previous outing.
However, Rob Handley and Steve Williams touched down to give Haringey a 10-3 lead and, although the visitors fought back to go 15-10 ahead, the Rhinos equalised before Miller’s decisive score.
The game started with Verulamians applying all the early pressure and the home side’s defence was tested again and again – but it rebuffed everything that was thrown at it with the ferocity that teams have begun to fear.
Instead, man of the match Rob Handley broke the deadlock for the hosts, scooping up a loose ball and running 40 yards to touch down.
The Rhinos started to get the upper hand in the scrums thanks to Rhys Headley and Tom Burrows, while the recalled Miller used his height to disrupt the opposition’s throws in the line-out.
Haringey went on to dominate the half and, although a Verulamians penalty meant they only had a 5-3 lead to show for their efforts at the interval, they extended their advantage after the break as good hands from Rhys Headley allowed lock Steve Williams to smash over from close range.
The Rhinos then took their foot off the gas and were punished as the visitors scored a converted try – and they then crossed the whitewash again to go 15-10 up.
These were nervous times for the Rhinos, who were behind despite being the better side, but they exerted pressure and Verulamians crumbled, with two of their players being sin-binned.
Haringey took advantage of a line-out as the pack rumbled over the whitewash, levelling the scores and leaving everything to play for in the last 15 minutes.
Again the forwards flexed their muscles and, although they were initially held up short, Miller picked up and dotted down to post his third try in six games.
That bonus-point victory meant the Rhinos leapfrogged Imperial Medicals in the league table.
Coach Mark Whitear, who came on for his last game of rugby before having a cornea transplant, said: “I’m so proud of the lads.
“After last week’s bitter disappointment they came out all guns blazing and really blew Verulamians off the pitch.
“It’s nice to see some of the moves and patterns we’ve been working on in training have come off and led to us scoring some good tries.
“We can’t get carried away though. Hard work and dedication is what will see us survive in this week, and I know my lads have got that in abundance.”
Haringey now lie 12 points from safety after closing the gap on 10th-placed Chesunt – and the Rhinos visit their rivals in a huge clash this weekend.