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Harpenden unable to complete comeback against Hammersmith and Fulham
12:10pm Thursday 21st March 2013 in Sport
A determined second-half fightback by Harpenden was not quite enough to snatch victory in a tense battle as they were beaten 13-8 at home to Hammersmith and Fulham.
Although only 10-3 down at half-time, they had looked to be on their way to a heavy defeat as the Londoners started to exert a stranglehold on the game.
But Harpenden came out fighting after the break and after scoring a well-deserved try should have scored another but were just unable to convert an abundance of territory and possession into more points.
As it was, they had to settle for a losing bonus-point. With two of their remaining three fixtures against runaway league leaders Tabard and second-placed Hemel Hempstead, it might prove vital in helping to secure their London North West Two status for another season.
Harps had begun brightly enough and deservedly went ahead on eight minutes with a Tom Muskett penalty in front of the posts after a darting run by scrum-half Alan Barton had taken them deep into the visitors’ half.
But Hammersmith and Fulham went ahead on 15 minutes after working the ball wide to centre Warwick Percival who touched down in the left corner.
And with Harpenden’s lineout and scrum coming under increasing pressure, they doubled their lead on 30 minutes when lock James Roache went over for a try in the opposite corner.
Only desperate defending by Harpenden prevented a further score before the break.
Whatever coach James Alvis said during the interval certainly seem to work because Harpenden came back strongly and for 15 minutes the visitors were unable to get out of their half.
The pressure was finally turned into points on 55 minutes when lock Simon McGhee was forced over the line after a classic catch and drive from a line-out on the five-metre line.
It was then the turn of the Londoners to come back and they were rewarded with a well struck penalty on 70 minutes.
Harpenden rallied once again, but, despite having virtually all the ball in the closing minutes, they just could not find a way to breach the visitors’ defence.
Alvis said: “I applaud the boys for their effort and heart, but the fact is we now face a real backs-to-the-wall fight over the next few weeks to ensure we stay up which means that we need everyone in the squad to help out.”