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Hendon secure their promotion in style with victory at Saracens’ Allianz Park stadium

PUBLISHED: 14:50 19 April 2016 | UPDATED: 18:40 19 April 2016

The triumphant Hendon team at Saracens' Allianz Park stadium. Pic: Paolo Minoli

The triumphant Hendon team at Saracens' Allianz Park stadium. Pic: Paolo Minoli

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Hendon completed their quest for promotion for a fourth straight victory, overcoming some first-half trials to score nine tries against West London at Saracens’ Allianz Park stadium and leave Herts/Middlesex Division Two in style.

Derry O'Connor (left) scored twice for Hendon while Jamie Connolly also touched down in Saturday's climactic victory over West London. Pic: Paolo MinoliDerry O'Connor (left) scored twice for Hendon while Jamie Connolly also touched down in Saturday's climactic victory over West London. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Donal O’Sullivan, Chris Kyingi and Jamie Connolly were all sin-binned at the same time in the first half and the Dons were only narrowly ahead at 13-12 in the 35th minute.

However, John Paul Cremin and Derry O’Connor then touched down to leave the home side 27-12 up at the break – and both players went over again in the second period, while Mike Evans-Jones also scored a brace in an increasingly comfortable 65-19 triumph.

Hendon knew they needed to beat West London to stay ahead of Watford and secure the second promotion spot on the final day of the season – and so it proved as their rivals beat Thamesians 32-19.

The Dons made a nervous start, conceding an early penalty, but the kick missed the target and captain Cian Hynes showed his accuracy at the other end to put his side 3-0 up.

Derry O'Connor finds a way through the West London defence to score his second try. Pic: Paolo MinoliDerry O'Connor finds a way through the West London defence to score his second try. Pic: Paolo Minoli

When hooker Tommy Middleton scored the opening try – converted by Hynes – the hosts looked in good shape, but they were suddenly reduced to 12 men as the referee brandished three yellow cards in quick succession.

Donal O’Sullivan was sin-binned for not releasing a tackled player and winger Kyingi was then adjudged to have deliberately knocked on in a defensive position, while Jamie Connolly was penalised for offside on the Hendon five-metre line.

It was a worrying moment in a season-defining match but, although the home side eventually ran out of players while defending their own line and conceded a converted try, that was the only blow they suffered with their numerical disadvantage – and Hynes put another three points on the board with his second penalty.

West London got over the try-line again – against 15 men this time – to narrow the gap to one point with five minutes remaining in the first half. However, that was as close as they got.

Captain Cian Hynes clears the ball from Hendon's try-line. Pic: Paolo MinoliCaptain Cian Hynes clears the ball from Hendon's try-line. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hynes took a quick tap penalty which resulted in scrum-half Cremin scoring under the posts and, with the last play of the half, centre O’Connor crossed the whitewash, with Hynes converting on both occasions to leave the Dons 27-12 ahead at the interval.

Less than a minute after the restart, Brian O’Regan drew his man and pushed the ball wide for Cremin, who secured the bonus point, and O’Connor added another converted try.

It was now one-way traffic and full-back Evans-Jones got in on the act, stepping past three defenders to add his name to the teamsheet.

West London briefly responded in kind but Hendon were romping over the finish line and flanker Connolly finished off a 30-metre driving maul, while O’Sullivan crashed through the defence to widen the gap further and a tackle from Evans-Jones close to the visitors’ try-line allowed him to score his second try and complete the rout.

This Saturday, Hendon’s second team are competing for the Herts/Middlesex Merit Table Plate Trophy after winning away against Biggleswade in the final.

Then, on Sunday, the club will hold their 62nd annual seven-a-side tournament, which traditionally serves as a warm-up event for the following weekend’s Middlesex 7s competition at Richmond.


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