Burton stars on his debut as leaders Belsize Park edge past Stevenage

Mark Liebling touched down for league leaders Belsize Park. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Mark Liebling touched down for league leaders Belsize Park. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Jeremy Burton starred for Belsize Park on his first-team debut as the league leaders survived a late scare to triumph 20-19 away against Stevenage in London North-West Division Three.

The pacy young kiwi Burton was promoted from BP’s second XV and justified his selection by setting up Mark Liebling’s try while kicking 10 points as the visitors established a 20-14 lead.

Stevenage scored a last-minute try which cut the gap to one point with a decisive conversion to come – but the kick fell short and promoted Belsize picked up their fourth victory from their opening five games and stayed top of the table.

Town won the toss, electing to play downhill with the wind in the first half, and they scored the opening try with an efficient catch and drive from a line-out.

However, Belsize have grown accustomed to conceding first and were straight back on the offensive, with Alex Lee and Olly Budd making bullocking runs to establish useful field position ahead of a kickable penalty, which resulted in Burton’s only miss of the day.

He soon made amends, receiving the ball as Chris Dan and Charlie Oakes moved the ball out wide and drawing two players to give Liebling the easiest of touchdowns, before adding the conversion to level the scores at 7-7 at half-time.

Belsize had the slope and the wind in the second half but the visitors conceded again before regaining their focus.

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Burton kicked two penalties to leave BP one point behind and Ben Parker then found a gap before popping the ball to the supporting skipper Tom House, who ran in under the sticks from 10 yards out to score his second try in two games.

Belsize had to defend with gusto in the final seven minutes, but they couldn’t get out of their own half. They conceded a late try following a tap penalty, but the missed conversion meant it wasn’t a game-changing score.

There was further good news for BP as the second XV beat Hackney’s second string 73-3 and the third team beat Kilburn’s reserve side 10-8.