London North One
Harpenden 11-17 Hammersmith & Fulham
A brace of tries from prop Jacob Bray saw Hammers prevail a crucial clash between the promotion hopefuls.
Trailing 7-8 at half-time, H&F used a strong breeze to pin Harpenden in their 22 and score two tries on each wing through Bray and speedster Henry Tanner.
Loose passes in the dying phases gave Harpenden a glimmer of hope, but a strong Hammers defence robbed them of any scoring opportunities as the clock ran down.
Head coach Dave Mannion said: “It was a pretty scrappy game out there in tough conditions for both sides, but we did what we had to do to get a win and stayed composed enough to score those two crucial second-half tries.
“It makes for a really exciting run-in to the end of the season for us with just four league games to go.”
The Hurlingham Park struggled for a foothold in the game early on, with. Three points from a penalty at the break down were swiftly followed by a well worked try for Harpenden as they took an early 8-0 lead.
But a dazzling break by centre Tony Bryant – beating four men - took Hammers within inches of the try line and Bray bulldozed over for his first of the afternoon on the stroke of half time.
A fine conversion from full-back Neil McClure from the touch line into a strong wind cut the deficit to one point.
Repeated penalties continued to trouble Hammers in the second half.
Flanker Joel Rabbidge felt harshly done-by to concede a penalty for hands in the ruck in front of the posts and Harpenden’s kicker cooly converted the infringement.
But the west Londoners hit back with trademark flair in difficult conditions, increasing the number of offloads and keeping the ball alive to put Tanner in for a score out on the right wing.
The forwards brought the driving maul into play and repeated pressure saw Bray pop up yet again to squeeze over in the corner to claim a vital win for the visitors.