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Brilliant Park stun champs to secure play-off place

PUBLISHED: 13:58 06 April 2007 | UPDATED: 14:30 07 September 2010

Belsize Park saved probably their best performance of the season for Saturday's final Herts Middlesex League clash against champions Kilburn Cosmos at Regent's Park. It was a game Park needed to win to guarantee second place in division two (south) and

Belsize Park saved probably their best performance of the season for Saturday's final Herts Middlesex League clash against champions Kilburn Cosmos at Regent's Park.

It was a game Park needed to win to guarantee second place in division two (south) and secure their place in the play-offs.

"This was an excellent performance against a very good side," said Park's Matthew Flynn. "It was the only league game they have lost all season.

"The win guarantees us runners-up spot and puts us in a great position for the play-off for promotion on April 21.

"Everyone in the side played some great rugby, despite having only two props available for the entire club. The scrum excelled and the backs produced some champagne rugby of the highest order.

"Ben Hannifin was outstanding in the forwards and Will Drewe had another excellent game linking forwards and backs together - both were joint man of the match."

Playing into the wind in the first half, Park were put under early pressure and were only saved from going behind by a marginal forward pass from a Kilburn centre. This woke up Park and they began to play. Superb handling from the backs and support from the forwards allowed Jiff Berkett to score in the corner.

Kilburn hit back almost immediately as the Belsize defence temporarily fell asleep. Missed tackles and some great off-loads by Kilburn allowed them to score a converted try under the posts for a 7-5 lead.

Much of the first half was fairly even, with both sides looking dangerous with the ball. Only excellent defence from Belsize and great covering back kept Kilburn out.

Soon the Park backs started to threaten. Kilburn became frustrated and the home side were subjected to some late hits. Yet, Belsize kept their cool. The forwards won the first of several scrums against the head and controlled many of the other set-pieces.

Park were soon rewarded. A line-out in midfield produced quick ball and sound handling from the entire back line set Duncan Batty free to score in the corner.

A third Belsize try quickly followed, with Greg Jenkins keeping up his current record of a try a game to give Park a commanding 15-7 half-time lead.

The second half was equally combative. Both sides created chances and only excellent defensive work kept the scoring down.

Belsize sealed the win mid-way through the second period when another first phase move involving Mal Deay and Ben Wilson split the Kilburn defence, allowing Tony Baxter free to stroll in under the posts. Drewe converted to round off the scoring.

Belsize Park: Flynn, I Deay, Mhone, Hannifin, Harrison (Geary), Cropp, Terry, Berkett (Callender), W Drewe, Baxter, M Deay, Wilson, Batty, Jenkins (Wade-Jones), Wokes, Geary, Callender, Wade-Jones.

pat.mooneyl@hamhigh.co.uk

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