Hampstead character shines through in testy victory over mid-table outfit Fullerians

Hampstead outside centre Pete Bicknell on the charge (Pic: Ed Dilnot-Cooper)

Hampstead outside centre Pete Bicknell on the charge (Pic: Ed Dilnot-Cooper) - Credit: Archant

Hampstead had to dig deep to prevail in an ill-tempered clash with Fullerians on Saturday, twice coming from behind to run out winners 22-21.

Hampstead's Neil Watt surges down the left to set up Alex Brooks for his first try (Pic: Ed Dilnot-C

Hampstead's Neil Watt surges down the left to set up Alex Brooks for his first try (Pic: Ed Dilnot-Cooper) - Credit: Archant

The hosts dominated the opening exchanges, pinning Fullerians in their own half as the visitors struggled to make any headway against a defence superbly marshalled by Stefan Psota, Mike McEwan and Max Moncrieff.

With around a quarter of the game gone Hampstead got some reward for their exertions as from a ruck five metres out, fly-half Ben Nichols' pop pass to Pete Bicknell allowed the outside centre to cut inside and go under the posts for Nichols to convert.

Smart thinking by scrum-half Will Cotterhill gave Hampstead a second score on 24 minutes when Fullerians were penalised for a hand in the ruck.

Cotterhill took a quick tap penalty and showed all his strength to barge through to score but two quick tries by Fullerians either side of half time quickly turned the game on its head.

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A well-worked score in the 40th minute gave the visitors a seven-pointer and three minutes into the second period they doubled their account, taking advantage of some lapse defending.

Hampstead reclaimed the lead 10 minutes later courtesy of Alex Brooks when, under pressure at their own scrum, they managed to work the ball to the left wing where a majestic 50 metre run by full-back Neil Watt shredded Fullerians' defence and allowed Brooks to score in the corner.

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Six minutes later Fullerians were back in the lead, with a swift passing move off a 10-metre scrum finished in the opposite corner.

An impressive touchline conversion gave the visitors a four-point lead which they failed to extend three minutes later with an ambitious 60m penalty attempt.

But Hampstead had the final say in a pulsating encounter as Brooks' sealed victory in the 67th minute when he finished off more excellent interchanges between backs and forwards for his second score of the afternoon.

Head coach Peter Breen said: "Hampstead again proved what a resilient team they have become. I'm more delighted by this win than any other this season, to lose a lead twice only to keep taking it back took character."

The victory gave Hampstead a valuable bonus point and moved them back up to fourth in London Two NorthWest.

The north London side travel to Hertfordshire on Saturday for the clash with Datchworth.

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