Captain Jonny’s jubilant as Belsize Park kick off with victory over Hackney

Belsize Park captain Jonny Jones. Pic: Belsize Park RFC

Belsize Park captain Jonny Jones. Pic: Belsize Park RFC - Credit: Archant

Belsize Park kicked off their campaign with a 28-13 home win over Hackney in Herts/Middlesex Division One, fuelling their ambitions of a promotion challenge this season.

Stephen Eustace kicked two penalties before Zach Webb crashed over the try-line to establish an 11-0 lead and, although the visitors fought back and narrowed the gap to three points in the second half, Charlie Oakes and Andrew Richardson both crossed the line inside five minutes to ensure victory.

Captain Jonny Jones was delighted with the start to the campaign – and his only frustration was that BP were unable score a fourth try against a side who could be one of their main promotion rivals.

“All in all this was a strong start to the season and we can be slightly disappointed that we failed to capture a bonus point,” he told Ham&High Sport. “With the rematch due to be played on the last game of the season, it may well be telling.

“We are now consistently fielding four sides and the club is looking to build on the hard work of our coach Andrew Barrington, who took over last season.

“With new training facilities at Coram’s Fields, strong depth in the squad and a positive and focused attitude, we are very much looking forward to the coming campaign with a gleam in our eye – but we know we have a lot to work on if we are to fulfil our potential.”

Belsize made a flying start and nearly scored inside the opening two minutes, only being denied by a defensive turnover on the line.

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On the back foot, Hackney turned to the tried and tested kicking game, but BP’s back three – marshalled by Mark Liebling – were always well positioned.

Belsize’s pressure and territory was converted into opportunities as they were awarded two penalties in quick succession, and fly-half Eustace scored them both.

With points on the board, the hosts stepped up the pressure and some superb back-line play down the left wing resulted in loosehead Webb crashing over the line.

Hackney regrouped and put together a sustained period of attack, with Belsize Park giving away a series of penalties for indiscipline in the ruck, earning captain Jones a nervous 10 minutes in the sinbin after he was adjudged to have collapsed a maul.

Hackney took advantage to create an overlap, and full-back Guy Watmore scampered into the corner to make it 11-5 at the break.

With their one-man advantage, the visitors won two penalties at the start of the second period, converting the first but missing the subsequent chance to level the scores.

That was the cue for Jones to return to the fray, and as both teams introduced their substitutes the pace of the game accelerated.

It was Belsize who landed the knock-out punches and they pushed ahead with a penalty kick before a devastating spell as Oakes crossed the line and his fellow centre Richardson immediately followed suit from the restart.

Hackney recovered to manage a consolation score through their No8 Ben Chamberlain, but it was too little too late.

There was disappointment for Belsize Park’s second team as they lost 12-3 against Chiswick, but the third team – known as the Bulls – beat Grasshoppers 47-12 and the Buffaloes (BP’s fourth XV) overcame Upminster’s third XV 26-24.