Captain O’Donoghue leads by example as Hendon defeat Ickenham

Hendon captain Ger O'Donoghue. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hendon captain Ger O'Donoghue. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Hendon captain Ger O’Donoghue scored two tries as his side came from behind to triumph 25-15 at Ickenham and maintain an early winning run in Herts/Middlesex Division Two.

Having overcome Chess Valley in their opening fixture, Hendon travelled to Ickenham with just 15 players in their squad - and they conceded an early try.

Winger Ben Linale replied by slotting over a long-range penalty, but Hendon seemed to fall asleep again and a penalty at the other end restored Ickenham’s five-point lead at 8-3.

O’Donoghue rallied his troops and they responded. Half-backs Cian Hynes and Mike Evans-Jones linked well and got the forwards moving, with huge carries from blindside flanker Paul McDermott and second row Dan Ledger.

Establishing good field position, the Dons forced another penalty – and, again, Linale came up trumps.

The visitors were now on top and they soon got over for their first try following a line-out move straight from the training ground.

Hooker Mark Munroe found Jamie Connolly, who set the back line going, and centre O’Donoghue ran in from 40 yards while Linale converted to put Hendon 13-8 ahead at the interval.

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They struggled to turn their possession into points in the second period, and prop Liam Murphy got to a knock to the shoulder after a huge tackle but had to play on.

Hendon’s line-out seemed to fall apart but Terry Gilbride was carrying well and was a constant threat, while Roddy Walsh played at the edge of the law all day and made some fine runs, with number eight Brian O’Regan taking it up to the gain line at any opportunity.

The pressure soon paid off as O’Donoghue went over in the corner to establish a 10-point cushion, but Ickenham came back strongly with a 10-minute spell of sustained pressure which resulted in a penalty try and a yellow card for Walsh.

Hendon now found themselves down to 14 men and having to dig deep as they defended a slender 23-20 lead.

Winger Enda Cassidy tackled well all match but didn’t see much of the ball until the closing stages when he managed to get the visitors back into the opposition’s half – and full-back Tom Matthias then intercepted a poor pass to run in unopposed, while Linale’s conversion gave Hendon some breathing space at 25-15.

Hendon went in search of a fourth try for a bonus point but, for the second game in a row, it didn’t come.