Rugby round-up: Hendon are Hack-ed off as fightback comes too late
- Credit: Archant
Herts/Middlesex 1: Hendon 22 Hackney 38
Hendon were left to rue a timid first-half performance against Hackney as they allowed their visitors a 19-point half-time lead before embarking on a valiant but fruitless fightback.
Struggling Hendon, who are propping up the table, endured a nightmare spell before half-time and found themselves 24-5 down at the interval.
They showed their class in the second period to score three times and narrow the gap to nine points – but it was too little too late as they suffered a 10th defeat from their 11 league games.
Hackney quickly took control from the kick-off and were ahead after barely five minutes as the visitors took full advantage of a maul to push their way over in the corner.
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Hendon’s defence improved and, although they generally struggled to get onto the front foot, they equalised against the run of play after 25 minutes.
A defensive error allowed Lee Linale to gather his own long kick upfield and he dummied several defenders before linking up with JP Cremin, and centre Michael Blake took the final pass to score in the corner.
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Hendon were level at 5-5, but they then took a hammering in the final 10 minutes of the half, conceding three times and going into the interval 24-5 in arrears.
Whatever coach Chris Palmer and captain Brian O’Regan said in the interval had an obvious effect after the restart as the hosts put Hackney under immediate pressure, and Linale dummied again to dot down in the corner.
Hendon’s hopes of a comeback were hampered as Cosy Mutuma was sin-binned five minutes after the break, and Hackney took advantage to score under the posts and go 31-10 ahead.
But the home side’s forwards were now dominating and Paul Julian and O’Regan combined to find Mutuma, who was back on the field – and he finished off the move.
Hendon’s spirits were lifted and they scored again soon after as the forwards surged forward from the halfway line and Mutuma touched down again, while Linale added the extras with the conversion to close the gap to 31-22.
Suddenly the result was in doubt – but Hackney realised the danger and stopped the rot, doubling their efforts in defence.
With time running out, Hendon were unable to break through their opponents’ back line again, and the visitors broke away at the end to extend their advantage and move into second spot.
Meanwhile, UCS Old Boys’ player-coach Carl Bradshaw admits his side are “now in the thick of a relegation battle” as they dropped into the bottom two in London North-West Division Two following a 39-10 defeat at Hammersmith and Fulham.
UCS initially took the lead through a Will McWhirter try but then conceded 39 points without reply before getting a late consolation score from Sam Wilson.
“We are now in the thick of a relegation battle,” said Bradshaw. “We have key fixtures coming up against London Nigerian, Chiswick and Fullerians – all sides we have beaten this season already.
“But if we are to get back to winning ways we need to be much tougher and committed at the breakdown.”
Hampstead’s game against Harpenden was postponed.
Elsewhere, in London Division Three North-West, basement boys Haringey Rhinos were beaten 54-7 at London New Zealand, with the returning centre Jack Parker scoring a late consolation try.