Hackney beat Belsize to move two points clear in second place
Herts/Middlesex One: Belsize Park 20 Hackney 27
Hackney kept their promotion hopes alive last weekend as they completed the double over Belsize Park to move within three points of league leaders Wasps at the top of Herts/Middlesex One.
The Griffins travelled down to a very cold and windswept Regents Park and having already convincingly beaten Belsize this season, knew that the hosts would be looking for revenge.
The game kicked off and within seconds it was evident that Hackney had come out of the blocks faster and more determined than the home side.
The visiting pack ploughed their way into the Belsize 22, with excellent running from Newton Mills and Ben Chamberlain.
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With the home side then sucked in, the ball was worked out to Jack Agboola, who took full advantage of the space given to him to side-step his opposite man and score the first try of the afternoon.
Conceding the early try seemed to spark Belsize into life and they began to impose their physical and scrappy nature onto the game.
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For the next half and hour, Hackney changed their style of play and started to match the home side’s tactics.
This resulted in the Griffins losing their lead thanks to two breakaway tries scored by the Belsize inside centre, who was helped out by poor defence from the visitors.
Hackney’s further ill-discipline then handed the home side another six points from two penalties right in front of the posts, before scoring two of their own, as the scoreboard read 20-13 at the interval.
At the break, Hackney skipper Alex O’Hara urged his side to play their own game and not get dragged down into the scrappy style of the hosts and the Griffins took the message on board immediately, retaining possession of the ball.
With the first 10 minutes of the second half, Hackney were in a battle with Belsize over the middle 20 metres of the pitch, with both sides involved in a kicking match which saw no end.
However, Hackney’s back three took the initiative and with James Hardwick’s and Charlie Williams’ quick feet countered the home side’s dog-legged defence to make good yards into the Belsize 22.
With a renewed pace to the game, Hackney’s counter attacking proved effective, as Williams’ excellent side-step saw him cross to level the scores at 20-20.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, the Griffins pack’s fitness and strength proved to be the deciding factor in the evenly matched game, as Mills, Alex Bobin and Ollie Hart continued to drive Belsize back to within 10 metres of their own tryline.
The home side had no answer to the intense pressure and after committing one too many penalties, the referee awarded a penalty try.
With the last kick of the game, O’Hara slotted the conversion to secure a 20-27 win for his side.
This weekend, Hackney host Old Priorians at Spring Hill as third place meets second.
Hackney: Hardwick, Williams, Agboola, O’Hara (c), Davis, Rowbottom, Davies; Mills, Bailey, Bobin, Crockett, Hart, Mills, Chamberlain, Tully. Subs: Bowers, Lane, Dawson.