Second successive defeat ruins Rhinos’ superb start

RUGBY UNION Barnet Elizabethans 20 Haringey Borough 12

HARINGEY returned from a week’s break to post a second straight defeat on Saturday, making their perfect start to the league campaign little more than a distant memory.

The Rhinos won their opening four fixtures in London North-West Division 3, sparking talk of a title charge and promotion.

However, a 32-12 home defeat against Old Haberdashers brought Rubert Jonker’s side back to earth and, having had a weekend off to lick their wounds, Haringey picked up where they had left off on Saturday, losing away at Barnet Elizabethans.

That leaves the Rhinos five points behind league leaders Fullerians and three points off second place, which is currently occupied by Haberdashers.

Haringey had the first opportunity to score when they were awarded a kickable penalty but, while Jade Murphy’s kick had plenty of distance, it lacked direction.

Jonker’s side looked dangerous again from the resulting drop-out and seemed to be in a strong position as the referee gave them a penalty advantage. However, just as the advantage ended, a wayward Haringey pass was intercepted, gifting Barnet an easy try from 80 yards.

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The only saving grace for Rhinos was that a brave chase and a desperate tackle forced the scorer to ground the ball in the corner, and the conversion was missed from the touchline.

The majority of the first half was played in the Barnet half but the hosts won a penalty on a rare forray over the halfway line and slotted the kick to take an 8-0 lead.

Rhinos continued to dominate the territorial battle from the restart but were pegged back on their own line just before the interval and, despite successfully defending numerous lineouts and scrums, eventually conceded a try under the posts. The conversion was good and the half-time whistle came with Haringey trailing 15-0.

The two sides cancelled each other out for most of the second half, but as Rhinos’ forward runners became more and more involved it became easier to break the Barnet defence.

Unfortunately the mounting pressure was constantly relieved by unnecessary penalties and knock-ons, but Haringey did manage a score when substitute Chris Whitear seized the ball and ran 25 metres to score.

Murphy converted to narrow the gap to eight points but Rhinos shot themselves in the foot with a disjointed chase for Tom Love’s kick.

With Haringey players out of position, Barnet made full use of their counter-attack and easily passed three lines of defence, opening up a 20-7

despite the conversion being missed.

The Rhinos needed two converted tries again, while another try for Barnet would give them a bonus point.

The hosts happily played a territory game for the last quarter of the match, constantly kicking and pinning the Rhinos back, while Dom Gains and Murphy took quick tap penalties to keep the momentum going.

The visitors thought the breakthrough had come when winger John McDevitt kicked the ball over the tr-line and raced in to touch down, but the referee cruelly adjudged that the opposing winger had grounded the loose ball first.

With time running out, Haringey had their hands on their heads again as Cameron Howson was hit just short of the line, only to roll out of the tackle and touch the ball down.

A successful conversion would have salvaged a losing bonus point but Murphy’s kick sailed to the left of the posts, and the final whistle sounded soon after as the Rhinos departed empty-handed.

This Saturday Haringey are at home at New River Stadium, hosting eighth-placed Datchworth, who have won three and lost three in their opening six games.

Haringey Rhinos: Berry, M Whitear, Cordy, Hawkes, Howson, Yates, Evans, Gaines, Murphy, Love, Huiskamp, Jonker, McDevitt, Tommy, Jones. Subs: Hutchins, Sweetlove, C Whitear.