Wilson's late winning try takes Belsize Park 10 points clear at the top
PUBLISHED: 16:56 10 February 2014 | UPDATED: 16:56 10 February 2014
Richard Wilson scored a dramatic last-minute winning try as Belsize Park racked up a 13th successive victory, winning 14-10 at Royston to move 10 points clear at the top of Herts/Middlesex Division One.
With their rivals having a weekend off due to the wet weather, BP had the chance to extend their advantage at the summit – and they faced a side they had previously thumped 69-10 in October.
However, it proved to be a real battle in difficult conditions, and the league leaders found themselves 10-0 down at half-time.
But Zach Webb came off the bench to score a converted try, and Wilson ran in from outside the 22 right at the death to win the day for the visitors.
“I was delighted with the boys’ composure,” said captain Tom House. “Like the Old Millhillians game [a 25-21 away win in November] we were behind for 70 minutes but came back strongly at the end.
“We were made to fight so hard but, after such a winning streak of 13 games, you will find ways to cross the finishing line in front.
“We know how to win, even if it doesn’t always look like it for 80 minutes.”
Only two games survived the elements in Herts/Middlesex Division One on Saturday, and the match was played in atrocious conditions with rain so hard that it was difficult to see the posts at the far end of the field.
Belsize gambled, opting to play up the hill and into the wind in the first half, aiming to keep it tight in the first period and then take advantage of the slope and conditions after the break.
BP enjoyed more of the possession but, as the only option was to run the ball, progress was very slow up the field and they encountered a highly committed defence.
Belsize battered the Royston line but were unable to cross it, despite surging drives from Nick Tyler, Olly Budd, George Hazlett and the returning Fred House.
Instead it was Royston who opened the scoring with a penalty, and the home team’s captain crashed over the line for a converted try with the last play of the half.
Belsize were 10-0 down but they had the hill and the wind after the interval and the second half was one-way traffic.
Man of the match Adam French built on his previous performance against Cheshunt by contributing even more in the loose, tackling and carrying like a man possessed, while playing his part as Belsize’s scrum began to crush Royston’s.
Meanwhile, in the line-out, Tom House did well at covering the throw to the front, ensuring Royston did not win one clean ball all afternoon.
With Belsize dominating at the set piece, the home side had no choice but to kick straight down the middle of the pitch to the faultless Stevie Eustace, who showed his class in the worst conditions for a full-back imaginable.
BP continued to batter Royston but their defence seemed unbreachable – until Webb entered the fray 15 minutes after the break and scored after a series of phases of tight forward play.
Still, the Belsize wingers were well marked, while the dynamic duo of Nick Lewis and Andrew Richardson were hardly given any room to breathe in the centre.
BP seemed to be heading for their second defeat of the campaign, but eventually their dominance in the forwards came to the fore.
The Royston backs were sucked into the tight for the final couple of phases – and that gave Wilson the space to carve through the chink to touch down, before adding his second conversion of the afternoon.
“The forwards were immense,” said House. “They gave everything in what will probably be the toughest battle we face this season.
“Full credit to Royston for their tenacity but after we had such dominance at the set piece, it would have been hugely disappointing not to come away with the points.”