Hendon and nearby Mill Hill, both resident Clubs of Copthall Playing Fields, resumed play after many years following Mill Hill’s promotion from Herts/Middlesex League 2. So far, Mill Hill have encountered mixed fortunes, but after a true grit start to this match were given a “what to expect” in the higher League and what they have to deal with if they wish to move ahead.
However, in appalling conditions, the home outfit took the game to their visitors, emptied their ”kitchen sink” in the first 15 mins with powerful play from their front five forwards with repeated scrums and rucks in their favour in the Hendon 22, but came away with a solitary 3pt penalty. Hendon, not having played for 3 weeks, could not get any decent possession, but tackled and fought for every ball with exceptional play from the whole team, with Ronan Jones in the forwards and inside centre Toby Ikwueke standing out. From the restart after the penalty, Cian Hynes took the ball into Mill Hill territory for the first attack; from a forwards maul initiated by Vytautas Pavilonis, giving fly half Rob Casey a run for the line to score, converted by Hynes and Hendon then took control 3-7. Mill Hill still defended well with Hendon’s next score not coming until the 28th minute after another break from the Hendon 10 line by Hynes, tackled midfield with scrum half Ross Williams finding Chris Kiyingi to score in the corner 3-12. Minutes later, the Hendon backline were firing on all cylinders as Nigel Toafa took an inside pass with Ikwueke finishing the move in the corner, Hynes converted for a scoreline of 3-19. But the half was still minutes left as Mill Hill set up another 15 man attack from a long lineout penalty to the Hendon 5 line to give them, as they would expect, some respectability with a try and at least something to show for their efforts; but yet again Hendon demonstrated their solid defence with Luke Pollard, back from injury, and Donal O’Sullivan excelling for Hendon for the home side to show only the penalty to their name.
Into the 2nd period, with only minutes on the clock before 2nd row Jones joined an attacking backline move to push out wide to score in the corner for Hendon’s bonus point try 3-24. Hendon continued to soak up pressure from the MH pack and then ran with any sort of ball, creating overlaps with fast slippery ball, commencing with Captain Hynes crossing the whitewash for his own converted try 3-31. From the restart backrow forward Mike Culhane made the next break on the blindside, slipping the ball to Hynes to score his second in the corner 3-36. With the match reaching the last quarter, Mill Hill had emptied their tank and could only go through the motions before the next score as winger Dan Watterson, was slipped the ball from a Hendon maul on the MH 22 to again score out wide a Hynes converted try 3-43. Replacement JT Moncher, added his own score with an individual run through the midfield to score another Hynes converted try and Hendon eased further forward at 3-50 with minutes to go. Then centre Ikwueke followed with his 2nd as Hendon demonstrated their full strength with both forwards and backs inter-passing with a try in the corner to finish a rain sodden afternoon at the “office”, with a very reasonable score to show at 3-55.
Next Saturday the club will be supporting the England v South Africa World Cup Final along with all rugby fans locally and nationally until the 9th November, when Hendon visit South West London to take on Thamesians in the next round of the League and trusting that they can continue with their current splendid record for the year.