Harpenden RFC lost 15-8 at home to rivals St Albans in their London NW Two clash.

Both sides found their capacity for getting a firm grip in the scrums and lineout somewhat diminished on a sticky pitch at St George's School.

If the spectators thought there was a problem keeping balance in the mud then it can’t have been easy for the players.

Earlier in the season Harpenden had gone to St Albans where the conditions were nearly as bad. Harpenden won that match but were not so confident they could do the double.

As it transpired, at times the St Albans pack looked to have the upper hand and at others Harpenden’s three-quarters threatened to run in a try or two.

St Albans opened the scoring with a charged down kick near the 22 which centre James Ford was quickest to react to and full-back Mark Kentish converted.

This local derby drew continuous shouts from the vociferous spectators that the laws were being transgressed but the referee kept his cool.

After 20 minutes, the first of three yellow cards was shown. Harpenden’s scrum-half Jack Haddock calmly struck the ball over the bar from the inevitable penalty award.

This score stirred Harpenden into action and there followed a good period of handling prompted by fit-again Joe Tennant with Tom Muskett showing up from time to time to test the St Albans defence.

With the half-time whistle nearing, Harpenden fell foul of the law once again opening the door for Kentish to take another successful kick at goal. Losing 10-3, Harpenden relaxed once more when they allowed the St Albans pack to drive from a lineout. Fraser Morris, the St Albans second row, claimed the try.

It was now Harpenden’s turn to attack and a fine switch between Joe Tennant and centre Chris Wilkinson, whose line of running couldn’t be faulted, resulted in a score.

After a chase of nearly 80m by Muskett and an attempt at a touch down the referee rightly adjudged the ball to have first been grounded by the St Albans full-back.