Harpenden RFC lost 35-22 at home to the Honourable Artillery Company.

Almost as soon as the second half had begun, Harpenden were reduced to playing with just 13 men. By then, five players had left the field with various injuries with no prospect of any further substitutes. Two players had been concussed; a further two apparently broke their cheekbones; and, a fifth wrenched his knee in an unlucky fall.

Things took a turn for the worse when after five minutes HAC’s right wing strolled over for a try in the right-hand corner. Harpenden, with the wind slightly in their favour, bounced back with an interception try through the reliable Tom Muskett.

The conversion was missed but fly-half Joe Tennant made amends a few minutes later with a penalty to restore the home side’s lead. With roughly five minutes to go before half-time the visitors scored another try - which they converted - bringing the score at the break to 12-8 in their favour.

However, by this stage of the game, Harpenden had already lost three players due to injury so one can imagine coach James Alvis’s feelings when, about two minutes from the restart, his team were further reduced by two more players heading for the local casualty ward. Harpenden had to play for the next 38 minutes with only 13 men – an unwelcome prospect against one of the leaders in the NW2 League.

It didn’t come as surprise when Harpenden eventually conceded more points and found themselves 27-8 down.

Harpenden fought back to bring the score to a respectable ten-point difference with tries from Joe Tennant and Ali Barton – both converted by Tennant.