Slow start is costly as Hampstead’s winning run is ended

Dan Dimoline's second conversion hit the post as Hampstead unfortunately missed the chance to go ahe

Dan Dimoline's second conversion hit the post as Hampstead unfortunately missed the chance to go ahead in the second half. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Hampstead missed out on a fourth consecutive league win and a place in the top four after a poor first-half display condemned them to an 18-15 home defeat against Hammersmith & Fulham in London North-West Division Two.

Hampstead try-scorer Rob Goode. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hampstead try-scorer Rob Goode. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Hammersmith led 15-3 at the break and, although the hosts fought back to equalise, they missed a chance to go ahead as a conversion unfortunately struck a post – and the visitors scored a decisive penalty to emerge triumphant.

Hampstead were confident coming off the back of a good win away at Staines, but some of that confidence turned into complacency as they struggled to mount an attack in the first 20 minutes.

Instead, Hammersmith’s back three were able to run in two tries from long distance as Hampstead’s back line struggled to defend the wide channels. Dan Dimoline kicked a penalty for the home team but they nonetheless trailed 15-3 at the interval.

Coach Peter Breen’s half-time talk was to the point: This is embarrassing and you must improve or I’ll drop all of you next week. It seemed to work.

Hampstead started the second half with a bang, suddenly starting to move the ball and run at pace. Winger Pete Wood made a number of classy breaks and the hosts’ scrum - on top throughout the match - continued to dominate.

Their first try was a classic, coming after two minutes of unbroken play. Breen’s side retained possession and worked the ball from side to side before a Pete Evans trundle was finished off from short range by second rower Rob Goode. Dimoline added the extras.

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With the bit now between their teeth, Hampstead continued to press and the second try came soon after. Wood broke and quick passing from Will Verona found James Ferguson, who touched down to level the scores.

That gave Dimoline the chance to put Hampstead ahead with the conversion, but he hit the post – and Hammersmith & Fulham piled on the agony, striking back with a penalty after foul play from Dave Corridan.

The remaining 10 minutes were all Hampstead, but they just couldn’t break through.

“Our first-half performance cost us,” said Breen. “We can’t give good sides a headstart and hope to claw it back. We were good in the second half but that doesn’t mean much if it takes us half an hour to wake up.

“We now move on to our next game and I’ll be looking for a big response from some of our key players. We’re a good side to be fair, but to be brutally honest we need to prove that week in week out.”