Hampstead overcome UCS Old Boys in controversial derby showdown
- Credit: Archant
Hampstead recorded their second win in a row after a controversial 17-13 derby victory over basement boys UCS Old Boys in London Division Two North-West.
Hampstead had failed to win any of their opening seven league games, which had left them in the bottom two along with UCS.
However, they broke their duck with a 43-7 triumph over London Nigerian last weekend and followed that up with another home win over the Old Boys on Saturday, taking them up to eighth place in the table.
UCS will certainly feel aggrieved with the defeat, having battled back from a 10-0 deficit to take a 13-10 lead – but, with seven minutes left, Tom McAviney was forced to make a try-saving tackle on Will Pettit.
There were few complaints from Hampstead, but the referee adjudged that the challenge was high and dangerous and awarded a penalty try, which proved to be the decisive score.
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UCS were missing their injured player-coach Carl Bradshaw, and Hampstead took an early lead as second row Patrick Wilson charged over from close range, while Morgan Clement added the extras.
The Old Boys came back strongly, with the returning Alex Henk making good yards in the defence, ably supported by Ahmed Ghanem and James May.
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However, Hampstead extended their lead as Clement slotted a penalty kick between the sticks, giving the hosts a 10-0 lead at the interval.
UCS increased their intensity after the break, with the introduction of veteran 22-stone second row Paul Dillon adding to the pressure.
They got their first points on the board with a penalty kick, and Xander Ancock then dived over the line to score a deserved try, while Tom Bamford converted to level the scores at 10-10.
With the UCS scrum dominating at the set piece, the Old Boys’ backs had the time and space to play, and a Bamford penalty gave the visitors the lead as they sought their first victory of the season.
Then controversy struck. Hampstead fly-half Pettit made a searing break down the left and looked certain to score before McAviney made a stunning last-ditch tackle inches from the line.
However, the referee was unimpressed by the effort, and he awarded a penalty try for a high tackle, with Clement converting to give Hampstead a four-point advantage - which they held until the final whistle.
The victorious captain Max Rawlinson said: “It was a scrap out there, but the most important thing is that we won.
“It wasn’t pretty and there were some tough calls for the referee, but we’ll take the four points any day. We’ve now got to regroup for Hemel Hempstead next week.
Meanwhile, Hampstead’s ladies enjoyed an 81-0 victory over New Ash Green. Great teamwork throughout the game saw 11 different players putting points on the scoreboard, with 13 tries and eight conversions in all. The opposition also earned credit for spirit, which made for an enjoyable game.
Unfortunately, the ladies’ second team lost 40-0 to Medway. Having conceded a few early tries, the second half was a much closer game and they only conceded once, in the dying minutes.