Hemel Hempstead Camelot stunned table topping Belsize Park RFC with a gritty 17-14 win at a very damp Chaulden Lane on Saturday.
Despite a brave defence from Camelot, Belsize Park started like a team at the top of league and took the lead with a penalty followed by an unconverted try.
After soaking up more Belsize pressure, Hemel replied with a try from Jamie McCutcheon which was converted by Jamie Hearn from the touch line.
Hemel’s continued unrelenting defence forced Belsize into a mistake, and a penalty kicked by Hearn allowed the hosts to finish the first half in front at 10-8.
The second Half saw Belsize attack Camelot ferociously coming down the hill, but valiant defence from Hemel continued to drive them back, holding them to two penalties.
With the scoreboard now reading 14-10 in Belsize’s favour, the whole Hemel team picked up their defensive game – with huge tackles coming from captain Nino Massa, Mathew Kears, Hearn, Daniel Obrien and Connor Herlihy.
As the game moved into the last quarter, Hemel put together some great phases of play, including one which saw Ryan Doyle pulled up short some 15 yards from the Belsize Line.
Hemel’s continued pressure caused Belsize to give away penalties, earning Camelot a lineout 10 yards out with five minutes to go.
An excellent catch and drive led to another penalty, and Camelot scrum-half Tom Aitken dummied the defence and nipped in round the side of the ruck to score the winning try which was converted by Hearn.
With four minutes to go, Belsize did not give up and came straight back – however the Camelot men held out, keeping possession through the forwards and creating time for David St George McKenzie to launch the ball back into the opposition 22 with a huge clearance kick.
As the final seconds ticked away and the ball trickled out, the referee looked at his watch and blew the final whistle to the jubilation of the Hemel team and supporters.