Hampstead triumph at Staines to record third successive victory

Will Pettit (centre) scored two second-half tries in Hampstead's victory. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Will Pettit (centre) scored two second-half tries in Hampstead's victory. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Hampstead produced their best performance in at least two seasons, triumphing 17-10 in a notoriously difficult game away at Staines to record a third successive victory in London North-West Division Two.

Hampstead were 10-3 down at half-time but fly-half Will Pettit ran in two tries – both converted by Dan Dimoline – to turn the match on its head and lift Hampstead to sixth place in the table, five points behind second-placed Harpenden.

The visitors lost their hooker James Wurr to injury early on, forcing them into an unplanned change and putting their backs against the wall.

But, after 10 minutes of relentless Staines pressure, Hampstead managed to get their hands on the ball and put together some phases.

Captain Andy McEwen came to the fore, making yard after yard in the tight and the rest of the pack, including returning scrum-half Max Rawlinson, weren’t far behind as Hampstead retained possession and took the lead through a well-struck Dimoline penalty.

Staines hit back with a strong spell of their own, pinning Hampstead into the corners with kicks while threatening when they moved the ball wide - and they scored a penalty and a try to take a 10-3 lead into the break.

Last season that would have been game over for Hampstead, but things are different this season. And, after some stirring words from coach Peter Breen, they shifted through the gears at the start of the second half.

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Moving the ball from side to side and passing through multiple pairs of hands, the visitors manoeuvred their way into the Staines 22.

Pettit slipped the ball to centre Pete Evans, who was making his return after eight months out with a career-threatening shoulder injury, and he ghosted through the defence before giving the ball back to Pettit for an converted score under the posts.

Hampstead were level at 10-10 and they weren’t finished. Staines again pinned their visitors back but gave away a penalty for obstruction - and Pettit seized the ball, tapped the penalty and zoomed 90 yards upfield for a glorious try.

Dimoline converted again to put Hampstead 17-10 ahead, and some heroic defending ensured it stayed that way until the final whistle.

Breen’s side host third-placed Hammersmith & Fulham on Saturday.