Deja vu as Hendon miss the target with decisive late penalty

Dave Francis scored Hendon's first try. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Dave Francis scored Hendon's first try. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Hendon suffered an agonising feeling of déjà vu as they missed a decisive late long-range penalty in a 21-20 home defeat to second-placed London French.

The Dons lost 22-20 against Saracens Amateurs on their own turf at the start of October, with captain Cian Hynes’ 35m penalty just missing the target in the final kick of the game – and history repeated itself on Saturday.

Hendon trailed by one point in the last few minutes, despite outscoring their visitors by three tries to two. And, although they won a penalty 40m out, the strike at goal drifted wide of the posts, resulting in a second successive defeat and a fourth loss from the opening six games.

Title contenders London French were quickly on the front foot, scoring tries either side of a Hynes penalty and taking a 12-3 lead – but Hendon hit back from the restart, with Hynes sending Dave Francis under the posts and then adding the conversion.

The visitors edged five points clear with a penalty, however the first half ended 15-15 as man of the match Harry Charles beat three defenders and freed Gerry O’Donoghue, who scored in the corner.

London French drew first blood in the second period with another penalty, but Francis broke through and Charles saw off a number of would-be tacklers to dot down out wide and put his side ahead for the first time at 20-18.

An offside infringement then allowed French to kick their way back into the lead, but Hendon had a final opportunity to turn the tables at the end. Unfortunately the distance was too great and the match-defining effort slipped wide.