‘We’re the team to beat’ says Hendon captain after 10-try triumph

Cian Hynes scored 22 of Hendon's 67 points against Old Isleworthians. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Cian Hynes scored 22 of Hendon's 67 points against Old Isleworthians. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Captain Cian Hynes says Hendon have announced themselves as “the team to beat” this season after another emphatic victory took them to the top of the fledgling Herts/Middlesex Two table.

The Dons scored 50 points and 49 points respectively to win their opening two matches – and they ran in 10 tries to triumph 67-17 away at Old Isleworthians on Saturday, with new signing Derry O’Connor scoring six of them.

Hendon agonisingly missed out on promotion on points difference last season but, having noticed an “intimidation factor” and “inferiority complex” at the club, Hynes says a new mentality has helped them to come flying out of the blocks and establish themselves as firm title contenders.

“There’s a good core of us, and we worked really hard over the summer on the things that we maybe lacked last year in terms of fitness and all the other things,” he told Ham&High Sport. “We’ve felt that we’ve put them right and we’ve recruited well too. We’ve got some good new players and we’re happy with how we’ve started.

“We spoke a lot about last year and almost having an intimidation factor about the league, and I think as a group we’ve kind of put that to bed now.

“Hopefully that will continue in the rest of our fixtures and the other teams will be looking at us going ‘it’s not a nice play to go and it’s not a nice team to travel down to’.

“Last year was my first season at the club and there was always a bit of a stigma about certain clubs and how Hendon had done [against them] over the last couple of years.

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“There was always an aspect of that, a small bit of an inferiority complex – there were always a couple of teams that we felt were a bit stronger. But that seems to have gone from the very first game now. We feel like we’re the team to beat and hopefully we can carry that on. We don’t fear any opposition.

“We’ve gelled like we should have gelled last year. We felt we were very close to clicking last year but it never quite happened and we’re just happy that we’re getting the ball rolling.”

Hendon are traditionally slow starters, but that issue has also been dealt with this time.

“From day one in the club last year in pre-season, I’ve always heard of Hendon being quite slow over the first rounds of games, with players returning [late] and training not being great so the fitness levels weren’t right,” said Hynes.

“They were things we were looking to try and get right from the beginning of pre-season – getting people fitter, getting a bit more continuity and having strong teams out right from the start, which was always difficult for the club.”

Hendon had their four-try bonus point in the bag after just 17 minutes at Old Isleworthians on Saturday, with outside centre O’Connor touching down on each occasion and fly-half Hynes converting three of them to put the visitors 26-0 up.

A long kick from the restart was then mishandled by the home side and Toby Ikwuele finished off another back-line move to add another converted try.

The hosts responded by rolling over the line twice, either side of the half-hour mark, to narrow the gap to 33-10 at the interval – but Hendon added another five tries in the second period.

Ikwuele was first to strike, collecting the restart before finishing the move, and O’Connor then went over again.

Isleworthians got their third try with another rolling maul, and Hendon were reduced to 14 men after losing prop Liam Murphy. But Hynes kicked a penalty and then touched down himself after an interception from Jamie Connolly, while adding the extras himself – and O’Connor and winger Robert Nunez also went over to take Hendon’s try haul into double figures.

“Derry’s come over from Ireland, from Limerick, and he’s really hit the ground running,” said Hynes, who ended the match with 22 points. “We’ve played a lot more ball and become more expansive and Derry has been really strong at 13 and scored a lot of tries.

“As a team we’re doing an awful lot of unselfish work. The big boys are getting us a lot of ball and even the lads like myself that are inside, we’re feeding the ball a lot quicker and it’s giving people like Derry and our wingers a lot of ball, so they’re getting far more of a chance than they had last year.”