Harpenden stunned unbeaten London One North leaders North Walsham with a last-gasp converted try giving them a 31-29 success on Saturday 16th November.
The Redbourn Lane-based rugby club have made a solid start to the new campaign following their promotion last season but even after recording five victories from their opening nine games, this one was not truly expected. That seemed doubly true when the visitors took a 29-17 lead in the second half but having kept themselves in the contest with a converted Adam Wilkinson effort, a break by Jimmy Speirs sent Max Baggio away down the wing to level the scores. This left Tom Sweeney with a difficult kick from wide on the right but the ball sailed straight between the posts to secure a sensational victory made even sweeter by a try bonus point. Skipper Oli Lacey said: “I always believed the boys could do it but we made things a lot more difficult for ourselves in the first half. “They are a very good side and we had to be at our best to win. The unbelievable effort by the team demonstrates the great spirit in the club and the support from the stands really lifted us.” Harps took an early lead when Sweeney slotted a long-range penalty, part of a second week where he returned with a 100 per cent record from his kicking game. But for the remainder of the first half it was North Walsham who held the upper hand, scoring three unconverted tries. The visitors’ dominance in this period was helped considerably by Harpenden giving away a series of penalties but more control in the second half allowed the home side to claw their way back. They were rewarded when Harvey Beaton made ground before slipping the ball to fellow front-row Pete Sims to force his way over the line. A converted try re-established North Walsham’s 12-point lead and the sides traded converted tries shortly after, Adam Wheatley getting Harpenden’s effort after a pick-up from the back of a five-metre scrum before the Norfolk side replied. It was at that point though that Wilkinson’s strong run set up the late drama and escapology routine.
Courtesy of the Herts Advertiser,20 November 2019 and by Neil Metcalfe. Picture: KARYN HADDON