Belsize Park withstand fightback to complete league double over Hackney
- Credit: Archant
Belsize Park withstood a fightback from Hackney to complete a league double over their rivals, triumphing 24-19 at a boggy Hackney Marshes in London North-West Division Three.
Ben Parker capped a faultless display by adding to an opening penalty try with one of his own, and Sam Bennett’s score seemed to have created an unassailable lead for the visitors at the break.
But two second-half tries for Hackney meant Belsize were glad to hear the full-time whistle and secure their second successive victory at the start of 2015, which leaves them second in the table.
Head coach Andy Barrington added: “The squad returned from the Christmas break on good form. They are working hard and gaining the results they deserve.
“We gained promotion along with Hackney and we know each other’s game. We knew this would be close and luckily we came out on top this time.”
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The wet conditions – and the enforced early replacements of new recruits Danny Steadman and John Corellis – did little to dampen Belsize’s attacking ambitions in a dominant opening half.
Sustained pressure from the visitors and consistent infringement in the ruck by Hackney led to a penalty try, which Tim Burton converted.
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Belsize fed off wayward kicking and the hosts’ uncertainty to double their advantage as a mazy run from Guy Parker created a two-on-one situation that allowed Ben Parker to cross the whitewash. Burton converted 10 yards in from the touchline.
Hackney, who remain fifth, found a way back into the game through their big forwards, scoring a try of their own, but 10 minutes later they were undone by a well-worked Belsize set piece.
Quick ball from half-backs Rich Turner and Richard Wilson made space for Bennett to burst through at speed and go over under the posts from 30 yards out and give BP a 21-5 lead at the break.
The visitors were now looking for a fourth try, but a scrappy second half littered with scrums and a few basic handling errors cost Belsize their chance to add the bonus point.
In fact the victory itself was suddenly in doubt as the home side produced two converted scores and narrowed the gap to two points at 21-19.
But Belsize were confident of seeing out the game, and man of the match Chris Dan tackled ferociously while Burton’s sweetly-struck 30-yard penalty from directly in front of the posts extinguished any hopes Hackney had of completing the comeback.
Belsize captain Tom House said: “The boys were superb in their attitude and discipline in what could have been a spicy affair.
“We have come on a lot this season and, even with a few key names missing from the team sheet, we still feel like we can beat anyone.
“I was delighted with how the boys responded positively to the key injuries of Danny and John. Everyone stepped up their games and did what was required of them.”