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Hackney in pole position for the title after victory over Belsize Park

PUBLISHED: 13:57 15 April 2014 | UPDATED: 13:57 15 April 2014

Hackney captain Alex O'Hara in action against Belsize Park in Saturday's top-of-the-table clash. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hackney captain Alex O'Hara in action against Belsize Park in Saturday's top-of-the-table clash. Pic: Paolo Minoli

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Hackney pulled off a huge win in Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash against Belsize Park to claim a crucial advantage in the Herts/Middlesex Division One title race.

Ben Chamberlain attempts to force his way through the Belsize Park defence. Pic: Paolo MinoliBen Chamberlain attempts to force his way through the Belsize Park defence. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hackney won 25-17 against their promotion rivals, who were playing their last game - and they are now just three points behind while holding a game in hand away at Cheshunt this weekend.

Victory for the Griffins will see Hackney finishing top, guaranteeing promotion to London North-West Division Three.

First-team captain Alex O’Hara was made up after his side’s victory over BP, who had won the previous meeting on the opening day of the season.

Indeed, Hackney lost three of their first four games – but they have won all the rest, a 17-match winning streak culminating in Saturday’s pivotal triumph over the league leaders.

Hackney coach Gareth Hatherley-Hurford (right) is delighted with his side's result, while Ollie Hart (centre) is congratulated by Belsize Park's Charlie Oakes. Pic: Paolo MinoliHackney coach Gareth Hatherley-Hurford (right) is delighted with his side's result, while Ollie Hart (centre) is congratulated by Belsize Park's Charlie Oakes. Pic: Paolo Minoli

“It was an amazing win,” O’Hara told the Gazette. “We needed to win to have a chance of going up. We were 22-0 up at half-time but had to hold on after the break. It was a game of two halves but we held on in the end.

“We are absolutely made up after that win and we go to Cheshunt next, who are fourth from bottom - and I doubt they’ll give us a walkover. We are happy and ready to go there and get the points.”

First-half tries from skipper O’Hara and Michael Legg helped Hackney on their way to a 22-0 lead at the break and, although a second-half onslaught brought Belsize back into the game, the away side hung on.

Even if Hackney drop points in their final game this weekend, they will still finish second, which is usually enough for promotion anyway.

O’Hara is therefore looking forward to a new challenge next season – and he believes the key to the Griffins’ success has been the consistency in their line-ups.

“A few new players have come in who have been important,” he said. “Compared to last year, we’ve had the same core that have played week in week out. “About 10 or 12 boys have played nearly every week and it makes a huge difference. We can develop partnerships with the front and back rows and we’ve thrived on that really.

“I think we are keeping the core of the team for next season. The last three winners of our league have also won the league above, so it’s a pretty similar standard and the same has happened this year.

“I think Harrow, who won our league last year, have won again in London North-West Division Three. We’re looking forward to the new challenge in the London leagues.”

O’Hara took on the captaincy for the Griffins this season after a year out and is delighted with how this season’s campaign has panned out.

He added: “I’m happy with how things have gone for me this year. I took the captaincy this season after about a year off, so I’m made up.

“We’ve got to try and get to the cup final as well, which will probably be played in August due to the fixtures, so I couldn’t be happier.”


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