Belsize Park post eighth straight victory despite spirited Haringey Rhinos resistance
Belsize Park posted their eighth successive victory in Herts/Middlesex Division One as the league leaders triumphed 34-14 away against basement boys Haringey Rhinos.
Brent Hoekstra ran in a hat-trick, while Corey Nash touched down twice and Adam Caines also scored for BP, while Jack Parker responded twice for the hosts at New River on White Hart Lane.
Pacesetters Belsize are now gearing up for crucial clashes against their two closest challengers – they host third-placed Old Actonians this weekend and then visit second-placed Kilburn Cosmos.
Captain Tom House said: “We can take a lot of positives from this result – our young guns really stood up against a very physical and proud home side.
“We have made life tough for ourselves in the past couple of weeks with poor discipline and a lack of concentration for 80 minutes. We will have to rectify this for two tough games before Christmas, which will define the rest of our season.
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“If we can go into the break maintaining our momentum then we’ll be very hard to catch in the new year.”
Belsize took the lead inside the opening five minutes, but a powerful and focused Rhinos side held their own and had their chances to hit back, with Tom Armer missing a penalty and Carl Brown and Dave Afreh both being frustrated close to the try-line.
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Those near misses made Haringey sloppy, and BP scored twice – including an interception by Hoekstra, who ran 70 yards to the line – to establish a 19-0 half-time lead.
With Sam Bennett enjoying a fine game on the flank and Ollie Budd giving no quarter in his first start at loosehead prop, the visitors added another two tries after the break – the second coming from a catch and drive, with Caines being pushed over the line by Bennett and Nick Tyler.
However, the Rhinos refused to lie down and, marshalled by scrum-half Matt Peterson, they crossed the whitewash twice – both scored by Parker and converted by Armer – to sandwich Nash’s second touchdown for BP on the right wing.
While the Rhinos had been defeated again, they had only lost the second half 15-14, and coach Mark Whitear said: “The spirit, determination and pure heart shown out there by my boys was awesome.
“It just shows we have the raw ingredients, and the hard work we’re putting in week in week out on the training pitch is starting to pay off.
“People think the gap between ourselves and everyone else must be massive when they see the table, but we really put out a statement.
“I’m looking forward to the next game and then, after the Christmas break, we can come out and lay down a marker for the rest of the season.”