Hampstead’s unbeaten run ends in ragged derby defeat to Hackney

Hampstead rugby team pose for the camera (Pic: Jon Boyle)

Hampstead rugby team pose for the camera (Pic: Jon Boyle) - Credit: Archant

An out-of-sorts Hampstead slumped to a 43-27 home defeat on Saturday, in a derby match against Hackney that served as a reality check following a five-match unbeaten run.

The home side were a shadow of the team that beat Chiswick and runaway league leaders Belsize Park on successive weekends before Christmas, conceding three tries before half-time, with only a penalty try and a penalty kick sparing the Hampstead blushes.

The defeat leaves Hampstead fourth in London Two North West by a point from Hemel Hempstead, with a bonus point for another four-try haul one of the few bright spots for the home side.

Yet despite being dominated by Hackney for much of the game, Hampstead enjoyed a 20-minute purple patch in the second half in which they dominated possession, scored three tries and threatened to overhaul the visitors.

After Hackney stretched their lead to 36-10 early in the second half, Hampstead’s Dan Dimoline latched onto a pass from Neil Watt after the full-back had made a break from inside his own half.

A Hackney yellow card soon thereafter saw Hampstead claw back another seven points.

Hampstead played the penalty advantage won at another dominant scrum near the Hackney line, and outside centre Pete Bicknell crashed over near the posts, making an easy conversion for Dimoline.

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That was followed by a try on debut by the excellent Rob Gardner who showed an astute knowledge of the laws of the game to touch the ball down in Hackney’s in-goal area after more strong work by Hampstead.

However, the conversion – which would have brought Hampstead to within a converted try of Hackney – went astray and the rally petered out.

With full-time beckoning, Hackney went over for a sixth try to complete the double over Hampstead this season.

Hampstead will look to get their campaign back on track on February 9 when they host Hemel Hempstead in a battle for fourth spot.

Leaders and neighbours Belsize Park sealed a comfortable 63-7 win over Grasshoppers.