Hampstead ‘Bravehearts’ defeat Letchworth in season opener

Hampstead face the camera after their season opener (Pic: Jon Boyle)

Hampstead face the camera after their season opener (Pic: Jon Boyle) - Credit: Archant

Hampstead came back from the dead to record a thrilling win in their season opener against visitors Letchworth on Saturday.

Trailing 19-0 with 20 second half minutes to go, Hampstead finally clicked in the 63rd when they were awarded a penalty try after repeated infringements near the Letchworth line.

Ten minutes later, Hampstead could arguably have had a second penalty try when a Letchworth defender deliberately knocked the ball forward when Hampstead, with a two-man overlap, seemed certain to score.

The foul play resulted instead in a yellow card, Letchworth's second of the afternoon, and inside centre Pete Bicknell soon made the extra man count.

After strong approach work by the forwards he went over behind the posts making it easy for Craig Harper to add the extras.

And with only a few minutes remaining on the clock, right wing Dave Brandon capped a thrilling Hampstead come back, snatching hold of a pass at knee height while in full flow to score near the posts and tie the game.

Harper, Hampstead's man-of-the-match, held his nerve to convert, capping off a bravura performance by the scrum-half, who kicked well from hand and marshalled his forwards expertly all afternoon.

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The result was a crushing disappointment for Letchworth, who dominated play in the first 40 minutes and were well worth their 7-0 half-time lead.

Only a prodigious defensive effort by the home team kept the visitors to a single score.

Hampstead began the second-half looking to take full advantage of a dominant scrum but within minutes they were even deeper in trouble.

Letchworth capitalised on a knock-on as Hampstead sought to run the ball out of defence, scoring a converted try soon after the restart. Barely 10 minutes later, they were in again, but this time failed to slot the conversion.

That miss, and a straightforward penalty that sailed the wrong side of the posts, cost Letchworth the game.

Hampstead know they will face another tough test, when a strong Chiswick side visit north London for Hampstead's traditional Ladies Day event on Saturday.