Breen fears Hampstead may have thrown away their chance of a top-four finish

Hampstead's Dan Wigley had a try disallowed against HAC on Saturday. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hampstead's Dan Wigley had a try disallowed against HAC on Saturday. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Hampstead coach Peter Breen fears his side may have thrown away their chance of a top-four finish after a third consecutive defeat in London North-West Division Two.

Breen stated there was “no margin for error” after the previous weekend’s loss at Harpenden, and Saturday’s 29-12 reverse at home against HAC means Hampstead have now been undone by the two teams that sit immediately below them in the table in succession, leaving them six points outside the top four places.

There were problems before Saturday’s game even kicked off. With a number of players absent due to illness, injury or skiing holidays, Breen had to be creative when selecting his back line – and 45 minutes before kick-off the pitch was deemed to be unplayable.

Breen and his players got to work to enable the match to be played but, unlike their visitors, they consequently missed their pre-match preparations – and they found themselves 19-0 down within 20 minutes due to poor tackling and a lack of defensive structure.

HAC extended their lead to 24-0 in the second half and, although Hampstead captain Andy McEwen forced his way over the line twice to halve the deficit before the end, it did little to lift the gloom.

“We are now in a very poor run of form,” said Breen. “Other losses have been close, with good performances, but this was poor.

“I must shoulder much of the blame. In order to compensate for missing people I tried to be too experimental and it did not come off.

Most Read

“I actually wanted the game called off and agreed with HAC that it was unplayable. I still don’t understand why I then worked so hard on the pitch to play the game, and I will not repeat the same mistake. It meant we started flat and confused.

“Any talk of a good league position has now ended. We simply need to train well, select well and start to perform as we can and enjoy ourselves. Once we concentrate on that, scores and results will improve.”

For the second week in a row, Breen felt his team fell foul of some poor refereeing decisions.

Dan Wigley saw a try controversially ruled out because of a late tackle on team-mate Matt Ward, and Hampstead’s coach was particularly frustrated to see tight-head prop Fran Fronargy being penalised in the scrum, limiting his side’s ability to dominate at the set piece.

“Referees who clearly have never been in a scrum need to stop giving so many penalties,” said Breen. “They are often the cause of games deteriorating.

“If they don’t know what has happened they shouldn’t make an offence up. The real danger is that people will give the game up. It’s being ruined as a spectacle and as a game to be enjoyed by players.

“Ten, 20 or 30 years ago the same scrums might have resulted in one penalty in a game. Now a referee wants to give six to 12 and there is no need, no offence and no enjoyment to be had.”