Saturday 14th April 2012
Canterbury Shield Division 2 (Level 7)
Rosslyn Park Hatters 10 Hammers 24
It was a brilliant offload after an epic run from the deep, with Hennie de Jager (9) counter-attacking with intent after a Rosslyn Park kick found his open arms. The problem was his pass went straight to the waiting hands of the Park 7, who promptly sprinted 40 meters to score under the posts. Rosslyn Park 10, Hammers 0, after 10 minutes.
It wasn’t the start the boys had envisaged for their penultimate match of the 2011/12 season. After a 21 games of Rugby over 9 months of hard slog, the opportunity to win the league and climb out of reach of 2nd place Old Reigations was there for the taking. Based on an opening 10 minutes of brain dead Rugby however, the boys could’ve been forgiven for playing for a draw rather than the required bonus-point result. Instead of the sweet taste of victory, the bitter backwash of defeat began to seep in the spectator’s mouths.
It was at that point that the Hammers drew a line in the deer-shit covered ground. Far from dropping their heads, the sight of cheering Park supporters sparked a hunger. Those would be those were the last points that Rosslyn Park would score this season. It was time to take care of business.
And take care of it they did. After a stern ‘settle-and-get-your-shit-together’ talk from Captain Andrew Rogan (1), the Hammers won a turn-over shortly after the restart. Attacking with renewed pace and sharp hands, lighting fast recycling allowed Hennie to consistently feed Tom Winter (10) quick and accurate ball. The options came thick and fast, with powerful runs by Shaun Stephenson (4) and up-the-middle trundles by CCS (12) driving the boys over the gain line. Ably secured by the clinical backrow combination of Tom Morris (6), James Smart (8), and Simon Cross (7), the process was continually repeated as the boys ground their way up the pitch. On the back on 17 uninterrupted phases, it was Cross who finally scored, opening the Hammers account. The marker was down. 10-7.
Rosslyn Park came back hard, with searching deep kicks assisted by a typical force 5 Richmond Park wind. They should’ve run it, as the back-three combination of Brock Sanderson (15), Tom Hamnett (11) and Will North (14) caught absolutely everything. Linking with Conor McNaughton (13), it seemed only a matter of time before the boys broke through the dog-leg defence. Sure enough, on one such occasion the ball spun wide and found the hands of North, who crossed and closed the first half 12-10.
The second half saw both the Hammers and Rosslyn Park launch heavy attacks on each other’s chalk, throwing their big boys into the attack. Excellent line out work by Paul Arthurs (5) forced several missed Park throws, while their driving mauls hit the skids when opposed by Tony Rees (2) and Ade Furniss (3). The game began to turn when the Hammers won against the throw thanks to some excellent aerial work by Arthurs, but it really opened up after a crunching tackle and turn over by man-of-the-match Cross. Epic defence by the Hammers held up the Park over the line, and never again would they come close to denying the red-and-blue their trophy.
It was the epic super sub-work by stalwarts Lynch (12, replacement) and, Mr Beautiful, Leon Joseph (14, replacement), who clinched the title. Crunching defence from the Bar Fridge’s stopped Park several times, with the last being close to their line. The subsequent turn over saw the ball eventually find its way to Lynchy’s child-like hands, which he forcefully trucked over the line to take the try count up to 3. 19-10.
With time running out, it looked as if the last game of the season would be a decider between Old Reigations and the Hammers, however a lucky and final 2 minute knock-on found the perfectly manicured hands of Leon. Like a well groomed cheetah streaking towards a kill, Leon pinned his already pinned ears back, and with the ball tucked under his sculpted bicep, he did what he has done so many times this season, and he ran.
Except this time, he ran the boys in the title.
It was an exhausted but elated Hammersmith and Fulham 2nd XV that left the field that day, having to fight for every point against a tough and hungry Rosslyn Park side. And after falling to convert twice before their dominant season into a title victory, there was something so very sweet about this one. Everyone savoured the taste.
Well done boys.
- Tries: Leon (1), Lynch (1), Cross (1), North (1).
- Conversions: Winter (2)
- Penalties: -
- Drop Goals: -
- Hammers: -
- Substitutes: -
- Man of the Match: Cross, for a dominant performance the entire game.
- Tin Man: Tom Winter, for missing two sitter penalties early in the game and his chat!