Belsize Park overcome Hemel Hempstead but fail to secure bonus point in title race

Jamie Niven (right) in action for Belsize Park. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Jamie Niven (right) in action for Belsize Park. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Belsize Park lost their status as joint league leaders in London North-West Division Three after failing to secure a bonus point in their 20-3 victory over Hemel Hempstead.

One of Belsize’s two losses this season came away against Hemel in November. And, although they were more comfortable when they hosted their 11th-placed visitors on Saturday, they struggled to dominate up front against a large pack and committed a high number of unforced errors in the first half, leaving the scores tied at 3-3 at the interval.

The line-out then began to function and, after a strong scrum inside the visitors’ 22, Jamie Niven found second centre Ryan Forrester, who ran in under the posts, while full-back Chris Lilly added the conversion.

Man of the match Forrester then went on two powerful runs before second row Adam Caines touched down – and Forrester ran from the halfway line to score his second try in the corner and put the hosts 20-3 up.

But they squandered several chances to add the bonus point, allowing London Nigerian to move one point ahead in the title race.

Director of rugby Zach Webb said: “I suppose it says something positive about the level of rugby that we are playing that a near bonus-point victory feels like our second-worst performance of the season. Our pack were left with things to think about.”