Hampstead coach: Injured Pettit will continue to be an important figure

Hampstead fly-half Will Pettit broke his arm in Saturday's victory. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hampstead fly-half Will Pettit broke his arm in Saturday's victory. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Hampstead head coach Peter Breen says fly-half Will Pettit will continue to be an important figure in the dressing room and on the touchline after breaking his arm in Saturday’s 34-21 home win over Harpenden.

Alex Brookes touched down twice as the hosts ran in five tries to secure a bonus point and join leaders Belsize Park and Old Haberdashers on 29 points at the top of the table in London Division Two North West – but the triumph was marred by Pettit’s injury.

“He broke his arm quite badly, at right angles,” Breen told Ham&High Sport. “He’ll come back but it was bad and a bit sickening.

“It was kind of a good day but a bit sad because some of these men I’ve been with for three and a half years, and they’re not just players - they’re men I really like and when they get hurt I don’t like it. But I still love the sport.

“If he’s lucky he’ll be back in the last five or six games. He’ll also come down and help me on the touchline.

“He missed the first five games of the season and he was a fantastic assistant coach, because he’s like the spirit of the team - he’s kind of the joker, the smiler.

“He’s always kept us going and we’ve missed him in the changing room when he hasn’t been there, and he’s determined to be there. We’ve got strength in depth but we don’t want to push it much further.”

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Hampstead took the lead after 90 seconds on the Heath as winger James Ferguson crossed the line following a blind-side move off a scrum, and Dan Dimoline kicked the conversion before slotting a penalty to put the hosts 10-0 up.

Harpenden narrowed the gap to three points before the break and Hampstead then lost Pettit, but fly-half Arthur Haynes was an able replacement and Breen’s side took control.

Captain McEwen finished off a push-over try, which was converted, and Max Moncrieff then weaved his way through a crowd of players before freeing Brookes, who went over in the corner before gathering a crossfield kick from Craig Harper and touching down again.

Hampstead were rampant but debutant Oliver Johnson-Munday – a new recruit from Oxford University – was then yellow-carded for a high tackle and he was sorely missed as the hosts conceded two converted tries in his absence.

Suddenly the gap was down to six points, but Hampstead managed the situation well in the final moments, holding on to the ball for two minutes and eventually scoring a fifth try as Neil Watts went over, with Dimoline adding the extras.

“With our recent history of imploding there was a feeling on the touchline that it was about to happen again, but the players took control,” said Breen.

“I feel we’ve really turned the corner in that respect. We’ve been really working on what we do when we’ve got a narrow lead with a few minutes to go – keep possession, recycle it, drive the opposition mad because we won’t give them the ball and let them make a mistake, and that’s exactly what happened.

“It was excellent to see us going through our procedures so I’m really happy with that.

“Now there are three teams tied on 29 points. December could turn out to like a semi-final and a final of a cup competition - we’ve got Belsize Park followed by Old Haberdashers again, and whoever’s top then will be favourites to win it.

“It’s an enjoyable experience – you don’t just have to win each week, you need to win and get four tries, which makes it demanding but it’s really enjoyable to be part of it.”