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Hendon forced to dig in after flying start

PUBLISHED: 16:53 19 January 2011

Michael Blake underpins Hendon's defence

Michael Blake underpins Hendon's defence

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Hendon 3

Saracens Amateurs 0

LEE Linale’s first-minute penalty proved to be enough to secure victory for a resolute Hendon side in their hard-fought victory over Saracens Amateurs at Copthall.

Hendon won the toss and elected to play downhill with the wind and immediately had the chance to take the lead when Saracens mishandled Hendon’s first kick.

Second-row Tony Connor collected the ball and attempted to force his way over the line as part of the maul in front of the posts. The move caught Saracens offside and a penalty was awarded.

Skipper Linale made no mistake with the resulting kick, as he slotted the ball between the posts from close up to secure an early advantage.

Saracens attacked immediately, but despite spending the next 15 minutes camped in the Hendon 22 they failed find a way past their hosts. Their best chance arose when they were awarded a penalty after a Hendon infringement, but Saracen’s kicker pushed the ball wide.

Hendon survived the pressure, but were forced to defend once more when Linale was sin-binned in the 25th minute for his second penalty offence.

The hosts clung on to their lead until Linale returned to the field on 35 minutes. He was quickly joined by Paul Julian who came on for injured prop Joe Haughie.

With the extra weight in the scrum Hendon continued to thwart the assault and maintain their slender lead at the break.

At the turnaround Saracens attempted to benefit from playing downhill, with the wind behind them. But Hendon had other ideas and stuck to their task, repelling wave upon wave of attacks.

Hendon’s pack was reorganised on the hour mark with Tony Connor moving up to the front row and Pat Kerrigan replacing Laurence Moore in the second row.

The re-shuffle boosted the weight of Hendon’s pack and allowed them to compete on level terms with the heavier Saracens.

Aiden Doyle, at second row, played a pivotal role for Hendon by winning the crucial lineout ball which allowed them to continually deny Saracens’ sustained assault.

Saracens were awarded their second penalty in the 70th minute, but the chance to equalise was wasted when the kick went wide.

The visitors, desperate for the equaliser, upped the tempo further and but Hendon stood firm as JP Cremin, Connor, Michael Blake and Hellio Vincente excelled.

With the clock ticking down Hendon were awarded a penalty which was kicked into space, just as the final whistle blew.

Hendon visit league leaders HAC on Saturday.

● In Division Two Belsize Park rose to fourth with a 30-26 win at Old Merchant Taylors.


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