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Defence key to hard-earned Hampstead win at Hemel

PUBLISHED: 13:00 24 October 2019

Hampstead RFC face the camera (Pic: Jon Boyle)

Hampstead RFC face the camera (Pic: Jon Boyle)

Archant

Hampstead wing Alex Brooks scored a brace of tries on Saturday as the north Londoners ran out convincing winners at Hemel Hempstead.

The visitors were just five minutes away from recording a second shutout in as many weeks when a well-drilled Hemel side finally breached the line to record their only points of the game.

The match ended 19-7 to Hampstead whose defensive record after five games is the best in the league. But their attack has also hit its stride with three tries recorded on their latest outing, one shy of the bonus point.

Hampstead enjoyed some early possession and took immediate advantage.

Attacks on the right side of the pitch were followed by a switch to the left, where Ben Nichols, again impressive at fly-half, cut out both centres to give Brooks opportunities to score his first and second tries of the season.

Max Moncrieff put in another massive shift while man-of-the-match Stefan Psota left a very physical impression on the home side with some thunderous tackles.

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"The first half resembled a training session of attack versus defence, with Hemel in attack for 35 minutes," said head coach Peter Breen.

"Not a single tackle was missed."

Hampstead turned around at half-time with a 12-0 advantage and spent much of the second half battling uphill and into the wind.

With around 10 minutes to go the home side suffered the indignity of being shunted back over their own try line, as Rob Sykes, back in the side after a stint abroad, put the finishing touch to an impressive pushover try.

Undeterred, Hemel returned to the attack, ignoring a number of opportunities to get on the scoreboard and instead opting to kick their penalties for field position rather than take the points on offer.

Their persistence was finally rewarded in the 75th minute when a cute dummy and pop pass allowed Hemel's centre to ghost through Hampstead's defensive screen to score.

Hampstead are now within three points of third-placed Grasshoppers and host a winless Luton side on Saturday.

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