Hampstead coach hopes his side has finally learned a valuable lesson after painful late defeat
- Credit: Archant
Hampstead head coach Peter Breen hopes his side has finally learned a painful lesson after they lost a lead inside the final three minutes for the fourth time this season.
Hampstead fought back from 13 points down to go 22-21 ahead against 10th-placed Tabard in London North West Division Three on Saturday – only to concede a decisive score with two minutes left and suffer a horrible 28-22 home defeat.
It has been a recurring theme this season and Breen hopes the agony he witnessed at the weekend will force his players to be more pragmatic and streetwise in future.
He told Ham&High Sport: “Nine of the 18 players who were there on Saturday are in their first season at the club and I think we need to know how painful it is to lose to be able to say ‘right, let’s stop playing’.
“We just keep playing, we’ll keep passing and moving and we need to say ‘ok, let’s kill this game, count the clock down and put it in the corner’.
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“I think on Saturday there was an idea that we can’t play this way, it’s too painful, and the team’s learning how important it is to just get over the line.”
Tabard took the lead after winning a penalty kick just 10 seconds into the match, but Dan Dimoline responded in kind and Ben Sanderson then raced down the left wing to touch down and put Hampstead 8-3 ahead.
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The visitors hit back strongly, though, scoring a try and a penalty to go into the break with an 11-8 lead – and two more tries after the interval put them 21-8 up.
Hampstead fought back, with Dimoline and Jonty Hallett crossing the whitewash, and Dimoline added the extras on both occasions to give the hosts a slender one-point advantage.
Breen’s side then had some golden opportunities to put the game out of sight in the following 20 minutes, but they were unable to stretch their lead – and instead Tabard hit back at the death to win the match.
Injuries have taken their toll on the Hampstead squad and Breen admitted: “We’re counting the bodies. I hate coaches talking about injuries but we’ve now lost our entire back row – [Max] Moncrieff, [Andy] McEwen and Rob Goode - and we miss them a lot. We’re not a big side and two of those are our most powerful players. “McEwen came off after 10 minutes on Saturday and [Dermot] Murphy, who was his replacement, tore his ear open and he came off too.
“I’d say our best five back-row players are now unavailable, and are next two games are against the top two teams in the league – Fullerians and Hammersmith & Fulham.
“I’ve got to try to manage the players and manage the squad so we can get to our last game against Enfield with a chance of competing, because that’s a winnable game.
“It’s going to end as kind of a disappointing season. We need one more win and then we’ve won more games than we’ve lost, which would have been the minimum we were expecting at the start of the season. But that’s the way it goes – sport doesn’t care how much you deserve stuff.”