Webb hails long-serving stalwarts as Belsize Park beat Hackney to go top of the table

Lotomau Komiti (left) frees Ben Parker for the first of his two tries against Hackey. Pic: Paolo Min

Lotomau Komiti (left) frees Ben Parker for the first of his two tries against Hackey. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Director of rugby Zach Webb was pleased to see Belsize Park’s long-serving stalwarts shining again as a 34-8 home win over Hackney took them top of the table in London North-West Division Three.

Belsize Park full-back Jeremy Burton (right), who scored 19 points against Hackney, heads for the tr

Belsize Park full-back Jeremy Burton (right), who scored 19 points against Hackney, heads for the try-line. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Hackney started the day in pole position, with Belsize in second place – but winger Ben Parker touched down twice in Regent’s Park and was involved in another score for Chris Dan, while full-back Jeremy Burton also went over the whitewash in addition to kicking 14 points.

The integration of new signings has been a key factor after BP’s fourth successive victory, but Webb is equally pleased with the contribution of the players who have provided the “spine of the team” over a number of seasons.

“No matter what level we step up to every year, those guys – our existing, long-term players – have just stepped up all the time,” he told Ham&High Sport. “They keep that spirit going in the team, and the club history, ethos and pride.

“The likes of Ben Parker, Mark Liebling, Jeremy Burton, Rich Turner, Sam Bennett and George Hazlett, they’ve been here for a while. George has taken over as first-team captain now but if you look back three years ago he was playing in our third team.

“You can’t create a body without a spine and it’s those guys who are the spine of the team.”

Belsize started strongly on Saturday but, despite several early opportunities, were unable to get over the try-line and had to settle for a Burton penalty, which was then cancelled out at the other end.

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However, Parker finished off some good phase play to score a converted try in the corner, and Burton added a penalty before Parker ran a fine support line off centre Jack Marples to go over again – Burton adding the extras again to put the hosts 20-3 ahead.

Parker then cut inside off the right wing, and quick ball from the ensuing ruck gave centre Dan the chance to go over beside the posts for another converted try before Burton followed suit to secure the bonus point – and he duly added the extra two points himself.

Hackney had the final say with a try of their own but there was much to please the home side.

Coach James Lindsay said: “We are really starting to reap the benefits of some fabulous new players getting to know each other and our structures. We all showed up very early, which made all the difference to our game day preparation.”

Webb added: “We’re friendly rivals with Hackney and they’re a great side. We’ve probably been vying against them for the last three years, and everything we do they’re there or thereabouts. It was a pretty emphatic victory.

“We were a bit slow to warm up this season because we had several new players – we had 167 new recruits at the club this season – so guys are beginning to get to know each other and, even with the best players, it takes a bit of time. We’re now at that point where people know each other, they’re enjoying playing together and we’re confident in our consistency.”

Belsize Park’s only defeat came on the opening day when they lost against newly-promoted London Nigerian – but that result is looking like less of an upset now, with Nigerian lying second in the table, just one point behind BP.

“London Nigerian are a side that’s been on the up for years,” said Webb. “They’re guys who came out of university and all played together – they’re a really good bunch of blokes.

“With any of these sides in the league, there’s such a huge variety to the results that are coming through that you can easily get beaten at any stage, so it’s very difficult to even try at this level of rugby to predict it or understand anyone else. All you can do is just focus on getting better yourself.”

Belsize will therefore be determined to avoid any complacency as they prepare to visit 11th-placed Hemel Hempstead on Saturday.