Last gasp kick drifts wide as Stevenage Town just fail to stop unbeaten Hackney
PUBLISHED: 19:37 11 March 2017 | UPDATED: 19:37 11 March 2017
Stevenage Town came one kick away from ending Hackney’s unbeaten record in London North West Three but had to settle for two losing bonus points in a 38-36 home loss.
It was a game befitting sides sitting first and third in the league and at one stage Stevenage were 12 points up with just 20 minutes to go.
But Hackney, who wrapped up promotion last week, came back strongly to lead by seven going into the final play of the game.
And despite strong defence, Richard Penny crept in at the corner to leave Drew Malins with a difficult kick to tie things up.
And his effort drifted across the face of the posts.
Head coach Terry Penny was left bitterly disappointed and immensly proud in equal measures.
He said: “The players deserved the victory. We’re playing the top of the league, they’re undefeated and a fantastic team, take nothing away from them.
“But we kept at it for 80 minutes. We’re a very fit team and they’ll keep going. We’ve got a number of key players out but the lads who stepped in did a terrific job. We’ve got a couple of forwards playing in the backs.
“Hackney are used to winning, they know how to close games out. But I’m delighted with my guys’ effort and commitment, it was outstanding.”
The game swung back and forth all day.
A try on 11 minutes by Joseph Thomas put the hosts in front but back came Hackney with scores from Dave Akkersdyke and Matthre Strong, the first of which was converted by Joe Askham.
But Stevenage would finish the half ahead with Sean Penny crossing on 26 minutes and then Alex Banna two minutes from time.
Dane Edge converted that one to make it 17-12.
That became 24-12 when the referee awarded a penalty try for persistent infringements at scrummages, a minute after Benjamin Chamberlain saw yellow.
The teams traded tries in the next 10 minutes as first Samuel Wilkinson and then Heiko Van Zweiten crossed the line.
But once Hackney got back to full strength they started to peg Stevenage back.
Akkersdyke got his second on 61 minutes and with 10 minutes left we were level as Alex O’Mara touched down and Askham converted.
Ian Crompton was tap tackled inches from the line as both sides pushed for a winner but it was Hackney who got it with four minutes remaining.
Neil cunningham got it after Chamberlain was stopped initially.
Crucially the kick was scored, giving Hackney the win despite the last-play drama.
The defeat leaves Stevenage third and officially out of the running for promotion. And the coach already has one eye on next season.
Penny said: “We’ve got a terrific U18 team coming through. Four of them played a couple of weeks ago and a fair few of the boys who were out there today are in their early 20s.
“We just need to take the positives out of today into the next game and into next year.
“We’ve missed out on promotion this year but we’ve got to carry on that momentum.”