Celebrations brought to a juddering halt
Harpenden’s day of celebration came to a juddering halt as Welwyn played the role of party pooper to perfection. A glorious sunlit day began with the Redbourn Lane-based rugby club officially opened their new £1.2 million all-weather pitch. The inauguration was performed by David Roberts, RFU council representative for Hertfordshire, who presented a commemorative vase to Harpenden president Peter Danby. And in expressing his immense pride in the facility, Danby paid a warm tribute to Darren Francey (club chairman), Peter Woodthorpe (secretary) and Philip Langford for heir huge efforts in bringing the project to fruition. But from there things began to unravel. Harpenden were second best in the derby clash and their promising start to their London North West Two campaign ended with a 22-19 defeat.
While they generally scrummaged and mauled well and there was no lack of effort, the end product was often marred by basic errors which resulted in the concession of a stream of penalties and turnovers. And it was from one of these penalties six minutes from time that Welwyn, who were ood value for the win, got their noses in front for the last time. Harpenden captain Oli Lacey was his usual honest self after the game. He said: “This was hugely disappointing. We made too many mistakes and there was a lack of discipline in key areas. “Despite all this, I still thought we might win but we let it go in the end.”
Harps were under pressure from the kick-off but after weathering the storm they failed to take advantage when stand-off Will Hales missed a penalty attempt on nine minutes. And six minutes later Welwyn took the lead through a Conor Boland try, aided by the departure of lock Ed Preston moments earlier for a yellow-card offence. But Harpenden hit back quickly with a fine try of their own, scored under the posts by outside centre Billy Sach after a strong run from Jack Murphy and
converted by Hales. More poor defence put Welwyn back in front, flanker Josh Milton, touching down under the posts, but Harpenden ensured parity at half-time when Jack Pennell went over in the corner. And they got the go-ahead try 15 minutes into the second-half. George Attfield got it, bursting clear for a try under the posts to give Hales the easy conversion.
All that good work, however, was undone five minutes later when Boland scored his second try of game. It meant the scores were tied at 19-19 going into the final 10 minutes but Harpenden’s discipline problems reared their head again with a penalty being given away, and Dave Fennell gleefully deposited the kick between the posts. Harpenden did have one more chance to level, but Hales’ penalty drifted wide of the posts.
Courtesy of Herts Advertiser ( Harpenden Edition), 2/09/2018. Picture: KARYN HADDON