Hampstead charge halted by superb Hammersmith defence

Hampstead RFC vs Harrow RFC (Blue), London 2 North West Division Rugby Union at Hampstead Heath Exte

Hampstead RFC vs Harrow RFC (Blue), London 2 North West Division Rugby Union at Hampstead Heath Extension on 4th March 2017 - Credit: George Phillipou/TGS Photo

Hampstead got off to a flier at London Two North West rivals Hammersmith & Fulham on Saturday, but a superb defensive display by the home team blunted their attack and they eventually went down 22-14.

The visitors were impressive from the start and their dominance was rewarded with a penalty try in the 16th minute when only a high tackle prevented Hampstead from scoring in the corner.

It was all Hampstead in the early stages and a three-try lead would not have flattered them as a dominant pack and strong approach work via the wings saw them gain strong field position.

But repeated charges upfield foundered on the well-marshalled Hammersmith defence, with Hampstead penalised in midfield for holding onto the ball after a tackle, and from the resultant penalty and lineout, the home side's rolling maul drove over.

A missed conversion meant they still trailed but on the stroke of half-time, an attacking scrum 10 metres out saw Hammersmith score a converted try to lead 12-7 at the break.

Hammersmith were first to score in the second half, stretching their advantage to 10 points with half an hour still to play.

Hampstead refused to wilt, however, and their relentless pressure began to take its toll.

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Hammersmith had two players shown a yellow card within 12 minutes of each other for foul play and Hampstead's pressure was eventually rewarded.

Arthur Haynes, playing scrum-half for the day instead of playmaker, picked the ball off the back of a five-metre scrum and went over near the corner.

Wing Alex Brooks did well to convert from the sidelines to draw Hampstead to within a score of their west London hosts.

But further attacks were stifled by an excellent Hammersmith scramble defence and the steam went out of Hampstead's revival when they were given a yellow card for an infringement near their try line.

Hampstead compounded their misfortune by losing the ball off an overly ambitious lineout throw, giving Hammersmith an easy run in to notch up their fourth try and a try bonus point.