Oakes completes comeback with last-minute penalty as Belsize Park overcome Hitchin

Belsize Park's Charlie Oakes scored the opening try and the late matchwinning penalty. Pic: Paolo Mi

Belsize Park's Charlie Oakes scored the opening try and the late matchwinning penalty. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Charlie Oakes completed the comeback with a last-minute winning penalty as Belsize Park triumphed 18-16 at Hitchin in London North-West Division Three.

Newly-promoted BP had suffered their second league defeat of the season and fallen from top spot in their previous outing, and they trailed 16-10 in the second half here.

However, Alex Lee scored in the corner to cut the gap to one point and, although Oakes missed the conversion, he got another chance from the same position in the penultimate play of the game, slotting the ball between the sticks to secure a dramatic victory.

Belsize drew first blood in a physical encounter, with pressure from the forwards gaining field position and Richard Wilson firing a miss pass to Oakes, who arrived at speed and went in under the posts before adding the conversion himself.

Barn-storming runs from debutants Michael Downes and John Corellis kept the visitors on the front foot but silly errors kept costing them momentum, and Hitchin landed two penalties.

BP got one of their own but it took a fine covering tackle from Ben Parker two metres out to maintain their 10-6 lead at the interval.

The second half started badly as Wilson’s pass to Oakes was intercepted, resulting in a Hitchin try – and the home side then crossed the whitewash again to go 16-10 up.

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But Belsize kept calm, unlike their hosts, whose fly-half was sin-binned, while BP captain Tom House and Adam Caines disrupted their line-out.

Good interplay between the forwards and backs allowed effervescent openside flanker Lee to go over in the corner, leaving the visitors 16-15 down, but Oakes missed the conversion which would have put his side ahead.

Despite that setback Belsize kept going and, in the last minute, Nick Lewis made a 50-yard break into the Hitchin 22 while good support from House earned a penalty.

That gave Oakes a final shot at goal from the same position as his recent miss, with the result of the match hinging on his accuracy. This time he was successful and BP were able to celebrate their sixth victory from eight games, leaving them third in the table.