Haringey Rhinos are enjoying the Sweet taste of success under their new head coach
Club captain Amrit Derry says Haringey’s new head coach Craig Sweetlove is already getting results after the Rhinos’ latest victory gave them a four-way share of the lead at the top of the Herts/Middlesex Division Two table.
Haringey banked their third successive win, and the fourth from their opening five games, when they overcame Old Isleworthians 48-17 at New River on Saturday.
With leaders Thamesians slipping up against Bank of England and suffering their first defeat of the campaign, the second-placed Rhinos drew level with the early pacesetters – and Watford and Old Millhillians are also sitting on 20 points at the summit.
Derry feels much of the credit for Haringey’s exciting position must go to Sweetlove, stating: “We’ve recently appointed Craig as our new head coach.
“Although a number of us have only been here for a short amount of time, it’s a proud moment for the club to appoint someone who’s one of their own.
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“Craig has been around for over 20 years both as a player and more recently in the coaching set-up, starting this season as our forwards coach before stepping up to head coach. He’s done a fantastic job so far this season and the transition has been well received by the lads.
“The table is wide open at the moment with the top four sides all on 20 points. This weekend the top six are playing the bottom six so there’s the potential for everything to be the same come next week.
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“We’re still not getting ahead of ourselves and know a lot of hard work is required for us to progress. Our depth will be tested as a result of the strength in this league, so hopefully we continue to retain and recruit players.”
Sweetlove added: “The lads have put in a lot of hard work at training and the results are showing. Things are looking really bright at the moment.”
Haringey exerted early pressure on Saturday and took a 10-0 lead, with Ben Watkins throwing a dummy and jogging to the try-line before Dan Thomas also crossed the whitewash.
Old Isleworthians then started to utilise their forwards, who were a constant thorn in the side of the home team, and a series of penalties gave them the opportunity to drive over the line and narrow the gap to three points before the visitors capitalised on some lacklustre play from the Rhinos to score again and go 12-10 ahead.
Haringey regained the lead before the break, however, with Thomas going over for a second time and putting his side 15-12 up at the break – and they found another gear after the interval, playing more sensibly, getting a firmer grip at the set piece and giving the backs more ball.
Watkins emulated Thomas by scoring his second try of the day and Nik Abramishvili, Luke Penfound and team captain Owain Luckwell then got in on the act before Anthony Ekundayo embarked on a mazy run that took him the length and width of the pitch and over the try-line.
While Isleworthians managed a third try of their own through their forwards, the damage had been done and Haringey were comprehensive winners.
Meanwhile, the Rhinos’ second team went down 36-10 at home against the Bulldogs, despite a spirited performance – and Haringey Ladies went down 15-12 against Hackney, losing the lead in the closing stages.
The Rhinos took the lead in the opening five minutes as Emma Langley and Aimee Foulkes combined to find Rachel Lum Wai, who went over the whitewash, but they conceded twice and went into the break 10-5 down.
Jocelyn Davis then crashed through the defence and Kate Glynn converted to give Haringey a 12-10 advantage, but Hackney turned the tables with a decisive score in the dying minutes.