Burton’s late penalty spares Belsize Park’s blushes against struggling Wasps

Jeremy Burton kicked a late winning penalty for Belsize Park. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Jeremy Burton kicked a late winning penalty for Belsize Park. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Jeremy Burton scored a late winning penalty as Belsize Park narrowly avoided an upset away against struggling Wasps, triumphing 13-10 and holding onto second spot in the London North-West Division Three promotion fight.

Rob Hooper and Chris Dan scored first-half tries for the visitors but they went into the break all square at 10-10, and the home side’s defence frustrated Belsize for virtually all of the second half.

Ultimately, though, BP won a penalty with just two and a half minutes left and, although he had missed four previous attempts at goal, Burton slotted his kick between the sticks to earn a crucial triumph with just three games of the campaign remaining.

The visitors got off to a flying start, showing attacking intent from deep, and early territory yielded a series of penalties while the home side’s number eight was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on on his line.

Hooker Danny Steadman then showed the hands of a centre to free Hooper with a fine pass, and he took his try well.

The conversion was missed, however, and when Wasps hit back with a breakaway try they added the extras to take a 7-5 lead.

Belsize got back on the front foot, attacking from everywhere, and Dan stepped through to score after some dynamic running from forwards David Brown, George Hazlett and Ollie Barcock. But, again, the conversion was missed and Wasps were able to level the scores with a penalty just before half-time.

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Belsize were much more efficient after the interval, penning Wasps into their own half for the full 40 minutes – but the home defence was excellent and, despite Belsize battering at the door, it remained resolutely closed.

After some barnstorming runs, centre Dick Valentine attempted to dive over the mass of bodies on the try-line, but he conceded possession.

Time was running out but the lineout began to function better and, as Belsize ratcheted up the pressure, the penalties came.

Finally, with less than three minutes left, Burton kicked the decisive penalty, and the restart was caught by Rich Turner before Steadman booted the ball out to end the game.