Hackney keep perfect record intact with tough Stevenage road win
PUBLISHED: 19:36 11 March 2017 | UPDATED: 19:36 11 March 2017
Hackney kept their perfect London North West Three record intact, surviving a last-play try to record a 38-36 success at Stevenage Town.
It was a game befitting sides sitting first and third in the league and at one stage Stevenage were 12 points up with just 20 minutes to go.
But Hackney, who wrapped up promotion last week, came back strongly to lead by seven going into the final play of the game.
And despite strong defence, Richard Penny crept in at the corner to leave Drew Malins with a difficult kick to tie things up.
And his effort drifted across the face of the posts.
Hackney’s head coach Marcus Tobin was relieved by the result an delighted by the performance.
He said: “It was far from a faultless performance but what I thought was clear was the determination, especially the defence at the end.
“We had to make a few changes and therefore the continuity perhaps wasn’t as we expected was but the effort and application of the team and the guys who came in was excellent.
“We’ve worked very hard on fitness and mental skills and the defensive line is very much about mental and physical toughness. We’ve worked on that and it’s paid off.
“Unsurprisingly Stevenage played some fantastic rugby, that’s why they’re third. It’s such a strong league and the margins are often very small. You’ve got to take your chances and minimise the opposition’s as well.
“I don’t want to be 31-19 down in every game but the guys didn’t waver away from the processes and managed to get back into it and get a bonus point win.”
The game swung back and forth all day.
A try on 11 minutes by Joseph Thomas put the hosts in front but back came Hackney with scores from Dave Akkersdyke and Matthre Strong, the first of which was converted by Joe Askham.
But Stevenage would finish the half ahead with Sean Penny crossing on 26 minutes and then Alex Banna two minutes from time.
Dane Edge converted that one to make it 17-12.
That became 24-12 when the referee awarded a penalty try for persistent infringements at scrummages, a minute after Benjamin Chamberlain saw yellow.
The teams traded tries in the next 10 minutes as first Samuel Wilkinson and then Heiko Van Zweiten crossed the line.
But once Hackney got back to full strength they started to peg Stevenage back.
Akkersdyke got his second on 61 minutes and with 10 minutes left we were level as Alex O’Mara touched down and Askham converted.
Ian Crompton was tap tackled inches from the line as both sides pushed for a winner but it was Hackney who got it with four minutes remaining.
Neil cunningham got it after Chamberlain was stopped initially.
Crucially the kick was scored, giving Hackney the win despite the last-play drama.