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Hynes feels Hendon can adjust their target and aim higher after an encouraging start to the season

PUBLISHED: 09:00 27 October 2016

Summer signing Dave Francis scored two second-half tries for Hendon. Pic: Paolo Minoli

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Captain Cian Hynes believes Hendon can adjust their initial target for the season and now aim for a place in the top three or four after Saturday’s victory over Wasps.

Arwel Roberts (second from left) gets a hug from Jamie Connolly after his first try. Pic: Paolo MinoliArwel Roberts (second from left) gets a hug from Jamie Connolly after his first try. Pic: Paolo Minoli

The Dons are new to Herts/Middlesex One after their promotion last campaign, and the primary goal was a comfortable midtable finish.

However, they have now won three of their opening five league games, having scored six tries and 43 points in a home victory over Wasps and the weekend, and they sit sixth in the table with a game in hand.

“We set off at the very start of the year knowing it was going to be a tough year,” Hynes told Ham&High Sport. “We wanted to finish in the top half and just make sure we were never fighting for security in this league.

“I think, using that goal as a realistic mark, we said ‘top six’, but we can almost push on from that and I think the top three or top four is definitely achievable.

JP Cremin passes the ball away from the ruck. Pic: Paolo MinoliJP Cremin passes the ball away from the ruck. Pic: Paolo Minoli

“Obviously there’s a wee bit of an adjustment period and everything else that goes with it, but I think we’re just about up to speed now and we’re confident and hopeful going forward that we can continue to do well.

“It’s very evident that, unlike last year, there aren’t many games that are gimmes. You need to consistently have good players available and have a good performance.

“Whereas last year we might have only had to play three or four tough games where we really had to show up, every game seems to be a battle and it’s a challenge in itself.

“I think at this stage we’re still to play our best XV in any game and there are games like Saracens (a 22-20 home defeat) which was definitely one that got away. We can use the excuse that we were missing people but we didn’t perform at all, so that was definitely one we feel slipped away from us.”

Hendon captain Cian Hynes kicked five conversions and a penalty. Pic: Paolo MinoliHendon captain Cian Hynes kicked five conversions and a penalty. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hendon were under pressure for much of the first half against Wasps on Saturday and they fell behind, but Arwel Roberts touched down just before half-time and Hynes kicked the conversion to tie the scores at 7-7 at the interval.

The hosts then dominated the second half, playing more expansively and opening their visitors up time and again. Summer signing Dave Francis charged across the whitewash soon after the kick-off and, from the restart, Donal O’Sullivan raced from his own 22 to score at the other end.

A set play near the halfway line resulted in a second try for Francis, and JP Cremin then ran in under the posts before Roberts doubled his tally for the day, while Hynes converted five of the six tries and added a penalty.

Francis has dropped down four divisions after leaving Amersham & Chiltern in the summer, and Hynes says he has been a valuable addition after the departure of centre Derry O’Connor, who has returned to Ireland.

“Dave just joined us this year and he’s been a great addition,” said the captain. “He’s played in the forwards and in the centres so he’s played in quite a few positions. He’s quite a big guy and he’s hard to handle so he’s had a great start.

“He’s generally a good ball player and he’s quite perceptive with his speed so he catches people off-guard.

“You can definitely tell the players who have played at a good level of rugby just from their general understanding of positioning and their intensity – it’s very evident.

“Amersham are in National League Three so quite a few leagues above us. We played against Dave a few years back and we knocked up a bit of a relationship with him, and our new coach Brimah [Kebbie] has a good relationship with Dave.

“This season he wanted to come and play for Brimah again and he was happy to come and play for us. He doesn’t live too far away, which makes it very easy.

“When you go up a league and you lose a couple of players you hope that the guys you bring in are going to replace them and do just as well, and Dave has come in and done a great job.”

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