Hendon suffer a narrow defeat to the leaders in promotion fight

Brian O'Regan scored the third of Hendon's four tries. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Brian O'Regan scored the third of Hendon's four tries. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Hendon started the second stage of their league campaign with a narrow 25-22 defeat away against leaders Saracens Amateurs, leaving them playing catch-up in the Herts/Middlesex Division Two promotion race.

The Dons outscored their hosts by four tries to two but Saracens clinically kicked five penalties to squeeze home by three points.

Third-placed Hendon got two bonus points as a consolation but, with second-placed Watford also winning on Saturday, they are now seven points outside the promotion spots with four games of the season remaining.

Saracens were keen to spread the ball wide and they took the lead in the fourth minute, stretching their opponents’ defence and going over in the corner.

Hendon had the superior pack though, and they quickly levelled as a powerful forward surge resulted in a penalty, with stand-in captain Toby Ikweke tapping it quickly and powering over the line.

The rapid scoring continued at the other end as Saracens won a penalty of their own, and their faultless kicker slotted the ball between the sticks to establish an 8-5 lead.

Hendon responded again as Jeff McVitty fielded a clearance and fed the ball to full-back Arwel Roberts, who ran 50 yards to score, while Ikweke added the extras to put the visitors 12-8 ahead.

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However, they were penalised for two infringements in the ruck and were punished in full as Saracens kicked their way into a 14-12 half-time lead.

Hendon forced their way over the line again at the start of the second half, with number eight Brian O’Regan powering over the whitewash, only for Saracens to hit back with a controversial try, with the Dons feeling their opponents had been shuffled into touch.

Their complaints fell on deaf ears and their hosts increased their advantage with two more well-struck penalties, moving into a 25-17 lead.

Hendon battled their way over the try-line for a fourth time, Mike Culhane the scorer this time, but they fell short and were left to reflect on a scoreline which did not reflect their performance.