Harpenden suffered a disappointing 26-13 defeat at Chiswick.

The opening exchanges were full of promise. Within ten minutes fly-half Joe Tennant sold an outrageous dummy from 30m out to score under the posts – a try that he converted himself.

Chiswick then replied with a penalty, one of several awarded against both teams by the referee. Then centre Aaron Wilde and Chiswick’s fly-half, Dave Howard, both had successful kicks at goal to make the score 10-6 in Harpenden’s favour.

The Harpenden defence seemed to be holding up despite a lot of pressure from Chiswick and more noticeably, the absence of captain, Jonny Barton, whose inspirational play has always been a model for all to follow. Furthermore, Harpenden had to contend with the sending-off of Joe Tennant for a yellow card offence, plus an injury to Stitch Payne. The latter was replaced at full-back by wing Tom Muskett who immediately impressed the opposition with his quality running.

A tremendous tackle by centre Tom Stagg on the Chiswick number eight early in the second half gave the away supporters hope this was going to be Harpenden’s day.

With 15 minutes gone the sides were matching one another for possession. However, Chiswick found there was plenty more left in their tank after a sustained period camped on the Harpenden five-metre line. Fly-half Howard sold a dummy then passed inside to left wing Matt Small, who raced through the visitors' defence to score an excellent try. Howard converted and Chiswick led 13-10. A penalty from Wilde made it 13 apiece but Harpenden were now well and truly under the cosh.

Poor defence by Harpenden, who looked extremely tired at this stage, allowed tries by Mark Jones and George Demetriades to be scored but neither of which was converted. Howard had scored earlier with a penalty kick which meant Harpenden failed to earn a bonus point.

Harpenden’s next match is at home against Hemel Hempstead.