Promotion battle nears thrilling conclusion as Belsize Park overcome Haringey Rhinos
PUBLISHED: 13:31 25 March 2014 | UPDATED: 13:55 25 March 2014
Belsize Park took another step towards promotion with a comprehensive home win over Haringey Rhinos on Saturday.
Corey Nash scored a hat-trick and James Berry, Charlie Oakes, Richard Wilson and Seb Dunnett also touched down against the struggling Rhinos in Regent’s Park.
It is a testament to BP’s rivals that, despite winning 18 of their 20 league fixtures so far, they are yet to cement the top spot or second place, which might also be enough - and there is still all to play for in the promotion battle.
Belsize’s first XV have this weekend off while third-placed Kilburn Cosmos have the chance to cut the gap with their game in hand.
However, a BP victory away at Old Actonians on April 5 would put Belsize out of reach of Kilburn, whatever the Cosmos do this weekend, and secure a top-two finish.
The leaders will then finish their campaign against second-placed Hackney, which could become a decisive clash.
Saturday’s contest was even at the start with Belsize having a good advantage in the scrum, while the Haringey jumpers made light work of the line-out.
But BP got the first touchdown as winger Corey Nash went through, round and under four opponents to get the first of his three scores in the corner.
Openside flanker Berry then dived over from close range, while the effervescent No9 Steve Eustace used the wind to good effect to add the extras.
There were typically bullocking runs from skipper Freddie House and George Hazlett, and excellent work in the tight from the impressive second row Alex Babaloolal, who was named the man of the match for his graft.
The tries kept coming after the break as Oakes touched down and Nash ran in from the halfway line, while Dunnett scored from 30 meters out and Wilson hared in from outside the 22.
Dunnett, who shone again at No8, was singled out for praise by assistant coach Mark Glowinkowski. He said: “Seb’s supporting lines were outstanding. He feeds those around him well and has the speed and fitness to be where it matters at the right time. He scored a peach of a try too.”
Some excellent runs from winger Nick Lewis and Arnaud Couffin’s defending reminded head Coach Andy Barrington what he will be missing for the final two games.
However, BP are hoping to welcome back a host of returning players - Ollie Budd, Zach Webb, skipper Tom House, Adam Caines, Miran Serdarevic, Nathan Thoday, Ryan Harper, Chris Perkins and Mark Liebling.
Meanwhile, Belsize’s second XV just secured a play-off spot in their league despite a 31-27 to Ruislip.
The second string and the third XV, the Bulls, will both play their semi-finals on Saturday, with the latter hosting Chiswick at 2.15pm.