Saturday 4th September 2021
Hendon RFC 17 -14 Stockwood Park RFC
Rugby returns to Copthall after 18 months.
It was a delight to witness the spirit of players from both teams participating in the first game of full contact Rugby Football after 18 months “Lockdown” since March 2020. Although other formats of rugby have been allowed throughout the pandemic, scrums and mauls have been banned leaving forwards having to play like their counterparts in the backs or going shopping on a Saturday!
This friendly match against Stockwood Park from Luton, who play in an equivalent Midlands Division league to Hendon, gave Hendon’s DoR and Head Coach, Phil Smith, the opportunity of looking at the new players to Hendon and positional opportunities for his “old” squad with a number of players still not available. Phil explained “Whilst Stockwood Park played a first team squad against us I used this match to give as many players from both 1st and 2nd teams the opportunity of match experience against quality opposition.”
Although a friendly, the match was very competitive with Hendon’s defensive play excelling in the first period after they had faced a downhill onslaught from the heavier opposition forwards, who scored their first try after just five minutes of play to put them 0-7 ahead. From the restart, Hendon pushed up field but handling errors allowed Stockwood Park to kick for safety. As the half-time break approached, a long penalty kick by Hendon's captain Cian Hynes from the Hendon 10 metre to the Stockwood Park five metre line saw Rossa Dooley collect from the line out and crash through the defence to score a Hynes converted try to draw level 7-7.
As in the first half almost immediately as play commenced in the second period Stockwood Park caught out Hendon's defence and set up a superb backline move scored a converted try to go 7-14 in front.
The match continued to be evenly balanced with winger Will Theaker requiring a number of opposition players to stop him whilst creating holes in the away team's defence. From another move created in the closing 10 minutes by front row forward David Jenkins, Dooley collected on the 22 metre line burst through to five metres and found Chris Kiyingi in support to score for Hendon with Hynes converting to level the scores at 14-14.
As full time approached Hendon were now the dominant outfit with new signing in the centre Dragos breaking the tiring Stockwood Park defence resulting in the Stockwood Park full back being penalised for a deliberate knock-on. Cian Hynes took the 3 points with little time to the final whistle for Hendon to commence the new season on a positive note.
After the match, Peirce Young, the London Society Referee commented “It was great to see Rugby back in play and a pleasure to referee a competitive friendly played in good spirit with excellent running rugby.”
Coach Phil Smith was also in full praise to all the Hendon players, who rose to the occasion and is now looking forward to training on Wednesday and the selection decisions he will have to make after this very positive performance.
Hendon's next match will also be a pre-season friendly away at Luton RFC. Newlands Road, LU1 4BQ k.o 14:30.