Hampstead win Hendon 7s Plate Trophy after a year out

Hampstead’s match day squad at the Hendon 7s tournament

Hampstead’s match day squad at the Hendon 7s tournament - Credit: Hampstead Rugby Club

An eclectic Hampstead squad emerged from the club’s first competitive outing in more than a year to secure the Hendon 7s Plate Trophy at the weekend.

The men’s section, who haven’t played a game of rugby since the 24-5 away win at Luton in March 2020, took part in the 66th edition of the Hendon tournament hoping to accelerate their 7s learning curve.

It was an experimental side that took the field under captain Ben Nichols,  Worth Old Boys their first opponents. The makeshift Hampstead side hit the ground running, notching up three tries in the first half, two from flier Seb Stacey and one from Edwin Zaimovic.

The second half was a different matter, with Hampstead’s 17-0 half-time lead under real threat as they struggled to secure any ball. However, the North London outfit hung to win 17-14.

Hampstead Head Coach Peter Breen lifts the Plate trophy after his team’s win

Hampstead Head Coach Peter Breen lifts the Plate trophy after his team’s win - Credit: Hampstead Rugby Club

Injuries forced squad rotation, with Ben Lockyer and Pete Bicknel coming into the squad despite carrying injuries to face eventual cup finalists Belsize Park.

Two fantastically well worked tries by Bade Ashimi, after sterling work by Timur Valiev and Matt Long, and a second by Stacey were a case of too little too late, as Hampstead went down 22-14.

That left Hampstead in contention for the Plate trophy, however, and rotation of the squad due to injuries meant that all players had a vital say in the day’s success. 

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Hampstead’s third game, against North London rivals Hackney, was a physical encounter, with Hampstead suffering three head injuries in the first three minutes.

But Hampstead picked up the gauntlet and lung-bursting runs by the injured Bicknel set up tries for Ashimi and McBeth before half time. Early in the second half, David Gordon dummied and sprinted for 40m, running a switch play with Zaimovic before Will Verona scored in the corner.

Comfortably 17-0 up, Hampstead proceeded to give up 16 points without a response, entering the last minute of the game just one point up. But tensions were eased once Stacey took a ball from a ruck, stepped into space and scored under the posts for Hampstead to secure a 24-16 win.

The Plate Final saw Hampstead face off against a youthful Finchley team. Again Hampstead took a 12-0 lead, courtesy of an individual try of power and aggression from Zaimovic and a brilliant team try finished off by Verona.

Hampstead again flagged in the second half and could not keep hold of the ball. However they did enough to get over the line, running out deserved winners 12-5.

"It felt great to be back and all the guys, especially the squad players and youngsters enjoyed themselves a great deal," said head coach Peter Breen.