Hendon battle into promotion spots as they start second phase with home win over Saracens Amateurs

Hendon's Cian Hynes kicks for goal. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hendon's Cian Hynes kicks for goal. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Hendon commenced the second phase of their league campaign with a 15-0 home win over Saracens Amateurs which leaves them in the top two promotion places in Herts/Middlesex Division Two.

The division has been split, with the top six teams breaking away to form a mini-league – and the table has been recalculated, only including their results against each other from the first stage of the season.

After that adjustment, and following Saturday’s victory, the Dons have moved up into second spot, seven points behind the leaders Hillingdon Abbots with four games to go.

Saracens were playing down the Hendon slope in the first period but could not penetrate a defence led by centre and man of the match Toby Ikwueke, who put in some massive tackles.

Hendon played most of this period trapped in their own half, but it took half an hour for either side to create a scoring opportunity, with the visitors missing a penalty.

The line-outs were all won by Saracens but the scrums were dominated by Hendon, with their front row of Chris Towndrow, Terry Gilbride and Lawrence Moore – and kick-overs by Saracen’s fly-half and back-line moves were ably thwarted by Arwel Roberts and Adam Johnson.

Saracens continued their onslaught but missed another penalty attempt at the end of a scoreless first half – and the roles were reversed after the interval as Hendon got the benefit of the slope.

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Pinning the visitors into their own territory, the hosts missed a penalty of their own seven minutes after the restart, but Johnson then penetrated through the middle and, when he was stopped short, Lee Linale set up his back line and captain Ger O’Donoghue finished off the move from the 22 to open the scoring.

Saracens tried to run the ball out of defence but their full-back was stopped by Johnson and failed to release the ball, resulting in a Cian Hynes penalty which put Hendon 8-0 up.

The home side were now in control and two replacements made an impact as number eight Cosy Mutuma broke through the middle to set up a rolling maul on the Saracens 22, which was finished off by front row Dave Connell and converted by Hines.

The Dons could have extended their lead near the end as Saracens’ second row was sin-binned for a late tackle, but the penalty went wide.

Hendon visit their nearest challengers, third-placed London French, on Saturday, having narrowly lost the home fixture at Barnet Copthall earlier in the campaign.