Belsize Park close the gap at the top after scoring nine tries against Hitchin

Jeremy Burton scored two tries and kicked eight conversions for Belsize Park. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Jeremy Burton scored two tries and kicked eight conversions for Belsize Park. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Promoted Belsize Park moved within one point of leaders London Nigerian in the London North West Division Three title race after running in nine tries in a 61-10 triumph away at Hitchin.

Full-back Jeremy Burton touched down twice and kicked eight conversions to rack up 26 points himself, while man of the match Jamie Niven also went over the whitewash on two occasions.

With Nigerian failing to secure a bonus point in their 19-15 home win over Hackney, Belsize closed the gap at the top to one point as the rivals close in on a decisive final-day showdown on April 23.

Director of rugby Zach Webb said: “Overall we played some of our best and most expansive rugby of the season so far.

“Yes, our defensive prowess was unfortunately sacrificed at times and our effort rate was too high, but this can be considered collateral damage for a side that is really growing into its own ability and style. We can’t wait for the next challenge.”

Belsize produced their best first-half display of the season, quickly building up a commanding lead. Niven stepped through the defence to score under the posts and, soon after, Andrew Winder chased Rich Turner’s kick over the top and dotted down.

A fine team try followed as captain George Hazlett and Stewart Shaw drew the defence in one direction before the ball was reversed to Tom Richards, who fed Winder on a diagonal line – and he in turn freed Burton for the third try.

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Hooker Shaw then exchanged a number of passes with Chris Lilly to send the winger over the whitewash. And, although Belsize relaxed and allowed Hitchin to respond at the other end, Niven spun the ball out to Jack Marples, who finished off a training ground move - and Mark Liebling then sprinted to the corner to put the visitors 42-5 up at the interval.

Hitchin hit back again after the break but Niven fed flanker Phil Blacker for another try before scoring for the second time in the game himself and then setting up Burton for a final score – the only one Burton was unable to convert.