Hampstead and Belsize Park both lose out in promotion clashes
PUBLISHED: 14:04 20 December 2016 | UPDATED: 14:04 20 December 2016
Hampstead coach Peter Breen has vowed to fight to the finish after his side's winning streak was ended by promotion rivals Old Haberdashers.
Breen’s team opened up a 12-point lead midway through the first half of their top-of-the-table clash in Borehamwood, but they were unable to hang onto that as Old Habs fought back to win 18-12.
The defeat halted Hampstead’s run of six consecutive victories and enabled their opponents to move three points clear – but Breen remains optimistic about his team’s title prospects during the second half of the campaign.
He said: “We’re disappointed to lose, especially after leading 12-0. We had some great performances but terrible luck.
“Discipline and an inability to stop giving away penalties cost us in the second half.
“We’ve still won 10 games out of 12 and have the best defensive record in the league, which proves we’ve had a good first half of the season and the team have every intention of pushing Old Habs to the wire.”
A brilliantly-worked try from Jonty Hallett, converted by Dan Dimoline, put Hampstead in the driving seat, and Alex Brookes extended his side’s advantage with an unconverted score soon afterwards.
Hampstead also had a try disallowed as the tide began to turn and they conceded a string of penalties as the home side edged in front and held on for the win.
Meanwhile, Belsize Park’s promotion hopes took a severe knock as they slumped to their third defeat in a row, going down 38-7 at home to rivals HAC.
BP allowed their opponents several key linebreaks out wide and failed to win any lineout ball, with HAC capitalising to score two converted tries in the corner.
Back row Chris Dan was sinbinned and the visitors continued to dominate, although they were also temporarily reduced to 14 men and that enabled BP to get on the scoresheet with a try from Sean Kerr, with Jeremy Burton adding the extras.
Belsize Park director of rugby Zach Webb said: “This has been a very disappointing run for us. We have been riddled with injury so selection has been incredibly inconsistent, forcing new combinations each game.
“We have struggled at the setpiece for three games now and that has cost us dearly.
“But we have been on the rise for a few years now, and this is one of those points where we gather ourselves and go again.”
The league programme resumes on Saturday January 7, with Hampstead hosting Tabard and Belsize Park away to London Nigerian.