Hampstead halt losing run - and captain Rawlinson feels it could be a turning point
- Credit: Archant
Hampstead ended their losing start to the season in London North-West Division Two after a thrilling 25-25 draw with Harpenden in a game that could have gone either way, down to the very last play.
Morgan Clement kicked 20 points and Hampstead held their nerve as the lead changed hands throughout an end-to-end game.
After taking an early 6-0 lead through two Clement penalties, Hampstead found themselves in familiar territory as two quick-fire Harpenden tries – both the result of missed tackles – saw the away team take the lead.
The sides traded further penalties and the visitors led at the break, holding a 17-9 advantage.
With the returning Pete Ward dominating in the front row, one of Hampstead’s key attacking weapons was taken away early in the second half as the scrums were made uncontested.
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However, Hampstead continued to press and they scored a brilliantly worked try as Dave Gold put newcomer Jordan Wood into space, and he flipped the ball inside to Donal Droney, who touched down under the posts. Clement converted and Hampstead had the lead.
There were no more Hampstead tries, but plenty of action. The lead changed hands another five times through a series of penalties and a Harpenden try from a missed Ceri Thomas tackle. A 25-25 draw left both sides relieved, but unsatisfied.
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With a new coach in Dave Christie and a host of new players, Hampstead were an unknown quantity coming into the new season – and they lost their first four games, suffering from a lack of familiarity and injuries to key players.
However, captain Max Rawlinson says the result against Harpenden felt like a turning point for his young team following an extremely difficult start to the season.
“We can definitely build on this,” he said. “There were some really positive aspects out there. Training is starting to look good, we’re coming together as a group and the big players we expected to stand up before the season began are finally starting to do just that.
“Clearly there’s still a lot to work on. We’re still leaking too many tries and our fitness isn’t anything like where it should be.
“We also need to work on finishing our chances. We’re making breaks and looking dangerous, but just not scoring the tries we should be – but we showed some fight against Harpenden, which was great to see.
“It was an emotional day for us as James Glaysher played his last game for the club, so the boys were really pumped up. We need to bring that emotion into the next game and every game after that.
“I’d like to take the opportunity to wish James all the best for his new life in Thailand. He’s been one of the club’s great servants.”
In other aspects, Hampstead continue to make great strides. The club runs a full junior section and two highly successful women’s teams.