Smith scores debut hat-trick as Belsize Park announce themselves in style

Belsize Park's man of the match Chris Dan. Pic: Kully Khella/Belsize Park RFC

Belsize Park's man of the match Chris Dan. Pic: Kully Khella/Belsize Park RFC - Credit: Archant

Tristan Smith scored a hat-trick on his debut as Belsize Park announced themselves in their new division in style with an emphatic 41-10 away win.

Promoted to London North-West Division Three last season, BP were in uncharted territory as they started their campaign at Grasshoppers, but they immediately picked up where they left off last season, running in five tries.

Richard Wilson kicked two penalties before man of the match Chris Dan touched down, and right winger Smith then crossed the whitewash three times in succession before Seb Dunnett went over the line.

Captain Tom House said: “It was certainly a memorable debut for Tristan Smith - to score three was a fantastic effort.

“We had debutants in key positions and they all rose to the occasion – Danny Steadman in the front row was dynamic and aggressive, as was David Shutte, and James Sale was excellent too.

“I was delighted with how intelligently the boys played. Grasshoppers had a much heavier pack but we showed ourselves to be much more versatile and more clinical from numbers one to 18.

“There are lots of new faces and returning players from last season who are desperate to get a game.

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“A good pre-season has set us in good stead but, from the look of some of the other results in the league this weekend, we are not the only ones who are looking confident.”

House won the toss and elected to play with the wind at the immaculate Syon Lane ground.

Belsize were under immediate pressure from the kick-off as the large home pack turned the ball over and won an early penalty, but the kick missed and, two minutes later, BP earned this own shot at the sticks. This time it counted as Wilson nudged it over from the right corner.

More Grasshoppers pressure ensued but their lack of clinical handling prevented them from playing their quick off-loading game, and the visitors doubled their lead with a second penalty kick inside the first 10 minutes.

The Belsize set piece was reliable all afternoon and provided a platform for the backs to fire.

Giant American winger Chris Perkins looked hungry and aggressive in attack and defence. And, when he turned the ball over at the breakdown on the Belsize 10m line, the irrepressible Seb Dunnett picked the ball up and freed Wilson, who raced down the flank before flicking the ball inside to Dan, who finished the move.

Ben Parker was showing real class and composure at scrum-half and Dan, who is playing at No12 this season, was demonstrating excellent judgement and distribution to consistently put Smith into space – and the winger dotted down twice.

Belsize led 27-0 at half-time but lost the tough-tackling Sam Bennett to the sin-bin just before the interval, and Grasshoppers took advantage of the extra man to score a try after the restart.

The home side continued to put pressure on, but Dan turned the ball over on the visitors’ line and put new boy Sale into a gap down the touchline, before some slick hands put Smith in for his third score.

Smith nearly got a fourth try but, after running 60 yards, his calf seized up with just five metres to go.

Belsize kept pounding away at the line though, and the fleet-footed Dunnett danced through a number of defenders to create a one on one with the home side’s No15 before jinking right and left and finishing with a swallow dive.

A fifth conversion was added and a late try from the Grasshoppers’ galloping second row made little difference.

The only blow for Belsize was that they lost Guy Parker to a chipped metatarsal, ruling him out for six weeks. Nathan Ladd also has an ear injury and will miss Saturday’s first home of the season against Finchley in Regent’s Park (kick-off 2.15pm).

Meanwhile, Belsize Park’s second XV beat Hampstead’s third team 53-17 with fly-half Rob Hooper scoring a treble of tries.