Webb praises Belsize Park’s character after victory over London Nigerian

Will Ville (centre) was among the Belsize Park try-scorers on Saturday. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Will Ville (centre) was among the Belsize Park try-scorers on Saturday. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Belsize Park sit third in London Division Two North-West - just two points behind leaders Hampstead - after a 36-14 home win over London Nigerian, who beat them twice and pipped them to the Division Three title last term.

Jonny Whitehead, Mark Liebling, Eric Trautenmiller, Will Ville and Jack Newman all scored tries, while James Russell kicked four conversions and a penalty as Belsize overturned a 14-10 half-time deficit to triumph in Regents Park.

Director of rugby Zach Webb said: “The boys knew they would win, but it came down purely to character to make that happen. We made hard work for ourselves in many areas, but that can be forgiven against a side of Nigerian’s quality.

“We didn’t panic when behind, we weathered their storm and some ill winds and our honesty and character shone through, making the victory ever the more satisfying. There will be several more battles like this this season and we will be the better side for it.”

Belsize had a dream start as Whitehead touched down and full-back Russell added the conversion - but an attritional half-hour followed as Nigerian’s smothering defence and relentless attack forced errors and penalties from the home side, who were playing into a strong wind.

The visitors’ scrum was dominant and the referee was unsympathetic, eventually showing a yellow card to Belsize’s debutant Andrew Wilson and separately awarding a penalty try after several scrums on BP’s five-metre line.

Russell kicked a penalty to give his side a three-point lead, but further pressure led to another Nigerian try, who were 14-10 ahead at the interval.

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Belsize had the wind at their backs in the second period though and began to capitalise on their dominant maul off the lineout, with the ball going wide to winger Liebling, who touched down in the corner.

Another maul then left the visitors fighting on their own line, and when the ball went wide again loosehead prop Trautenmiller went over.

Soon after, Liebling fed Ville, who sprinted 40 metres along the touchline and scored under the posts to put Belsize 29-14 ahead.

Man of the match Newman got the final score, being rewarded for his persistence in policing his midfield channel when he collected a loose pass from his opposite number and ran in unopposed.