Belsize Park seize top spot ahead of title decider against London Nigerian

Mark Liebling scored three of Belsize Park's 11 tries. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Mark Liebling scored three of Belsize Park's 11 tries. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Belsize Park overtook London Nigerian and seized top spot ahead of Saturday’s final-day title showdown in London North West Division Three after thumping Old Actonians 73-3 in their penultimate fixture.

Mark Liebling scored a hat-trick while Jamie Niven and Chris Lilly both touched down twice as Belsize ran in 11 tries in total, extending their winning run to 15 matches, while Nigerian were surprisingly held to a 15-15 draw away against ninth-placed Hemel Hempstead.

Belsize now go into this weekend’s decisive top-of-the-table clash in first place but their two-point lead means relatively little – a defeat away against Nigerian, who won the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season, would force them to settle for the runners-up spot.

Director of rugby Zach Webb said: “We go into the league decider against London Nigerian on top of the table but it makes no difference – a win is all that matters to us.

“We are almost a completely different side, in terms of our ability and structure, to that which lost to them in the opening game. We are playing an exciting brand of rugby and we look forward to being tested.”

Having scored 61 points in their previous outing against Hitchin on April 2, Belsize were ruthless again when they hosted Old Actonians.

Winger Liebling scored three tries – all converted by Jeremy Burton – to give the hosts a 21-3 lead, and captain George Hazlett then smashed his way over the line. Niven twice crossed the whitewash, as did Lilly, and Stewart Shaw touched down after a driving maul.

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Burton, who kicked nine conversions, added a try to his tally, while joint top scorer Ben Parker finished off a dazzling sequence of passes from the restart.

Elsewhere, Hampstead lost 48-15 away against second-placed Hammersmith & Fulham in London North West Division Two, and UCS Old Boys went down 55-12 against champions Kilburn Cosmos in Herts/Middlesex Division One despite a strong first-half performance featuring tries from Chris Oulton and Joe Samuel.