Three tries towards the end of the game by the speedy pair Tom Muskett and Chris Houston secured a 33-17 victory for Harpenden over UCS Old Boys in London NW2 on Saturday.
Teenager Houston was making his debut at outside centre and finished with a double, the second of which was the result of quick reactions to a deflection near the UCS line with a minute to go of full time.
There was speculation whether Harpenden would bounce back after last week’s disappointment against London Nigerian but they pulled the stops out and although the rugby did not reach the heights of perfection earned the win.
The game started off with a bang as within four minutes fly-half Joe Tennant sold a dummy from just outside the visitor’s 22 for an unconverted score.
The celebrations were short-lived as a scrum five saw UCS number eight James Boyd pick up and power his way over the line.
Fortunately for Harpenden fly-half James Boxer had left his kicking boots at home.
Throughout the first half, UCS looked the stronger in the tight and played particularly well from the base of the scrum. In reply to an Aaron Wilde penalty, David O’Dwyer – the lively UCS scrum half – fired a warning shot when he nipped in for a try.
With two minutes remaining of the first half, Callum Burns was able to take advantage of some loose marking on the blind side to go over for a try that Boxer converted to give the visitors a half-time lead of 17-8.
Coach James Alvis’s advice to his team at half-time to get lower in the scrum paid off with the pitch holding up well and Harpenden’s pack began to function. Once again Robin Ajder impressed with another hard working display.
The reward for this pressure was a series of penalties and it wasn’t long before scrum-half Jack Haddock brought the score to within six points of the visitors' total.
Despite giving far too many penalties away Harpenden came good in the end.
Alvis and backs coach Phil Cooper looked mightily relieved at the final whistle that Harpenden had gained one more bonus point.