Saturday 4th March 2017

London 2 North West (Level 7)

Enfield Ignatians 19 Hammers 25

Another away game on the opposite side of the capital meant another bus trip for the Hammers first XV. The game was posed as a ‘must-win’ fixture for the Hammers with a string of unfavourable results putting the pressure on the bottom half of the table.

A pitch that in previous years has only been brown, surprised the boys on arrival with fresh green grass, freshly painted lines and decent weather conditions – although Storm Doris appeared to be lingering in North West London, with a strong down-pitch wind playing into the Hammers favour for the first half.

Following a win in the home leg, the confidence could be felt in the warm up, and was carried to within the four walls of the dressing room, with the usual suspects of Smarty and Blyghts fuelling the fire.

Enfield came out blazing for the first 5, putting their strong runners to use and stuck the Hammers on the back foot around the 22 line. Pressure was soon relieved with some clean turnover ball and good first hit defence, followed by fantastic territorial kicking from half backs Jon Mac and Keith, using the wind to their advantage and putting the hammers into the strike zone.

Following a good string of phases, Hammers ran hard at Enfield and broke the gain line again and again. A quick delivery out to Keith at 10 gave a chance to show some beautiful footwork against a scrambling back foot defence. Beating at least 2 defenders in a small space, Keith’s arm was stretched out to ground the ball, followed by the whistle confirming the first 5 points of the game.

The half continued in this manner with the away team putting more and more phases together, and with a kick right into the corner, Hammers were given their first opportunity to dominate the line out. Collected beautifully and driven forward with Jon at 9 even getting his head stuck in, the maul collapsed over the white wash. With the referee’s arm in the air, a try for the ever-hungry hooker Horse was confirmed, putting the hammers 10 points ahead. In extremely challenging kicking conditions, Jon slotted the conversion with his eyes closed, straight through the middle of the posts. 0-12 Hammers.

A dominant scrum from the Hammers front 8 continued to put pressure on Enfield, providing clean ball for the backs to play their characteristic running rugby. Hard running lines from Tass and CCS left the Enfield back line depleted, giving Tony the space to cut open the midfield. Some great support lines from Cilian off the wing proved too much for the defence and put the Hammers over for their 3rd score of the half. Again, the conversion effortlessly put through the sticks.

The half-time huddle was confident and the Hammers were keen to prove that the cross-field gale was not just a ’15 point wind’. The Hammers were now playing against the conditions for the next 40.

The second half proved more difficult with some tough decisions at the break down, tied in with the ’15 point wind’, and Hammers soon conceded for the first time in the game. Defence was resilient, but Enfield began to find the gaps and bring themselves back into the game. 3 tries for the home team in addition to some kicked points for the Hammers, put Enfield within 6 points of the leaders who had to dig deep.

Some huge collisions from both sides kept Physio Tim busy, with Smarty, Horse, and Keith all putting their bodies on the line phase after phase. After a scuffle between both teams fuelled by foul play resulted in Enfield being reduced to 14-men, the Hammers took control of the ball and piled the pressure back into the Enfield half.

Excellent defensive organisation around the fringes of the ruck in the final 10 minutes, and with Tass calling the defensive press – Hammers continued to force errors from an Enfield team who were throwing the kitchen sink at the game.

Good ball retention at the line out from Josh and Roche ran down the clock, and the Hammers had sealed the victory – 19-25. A good day at the office, and a fairly dominant performance despite the close score line.

Some sore bodies at the end of the 80, soon to be forgotten about on the bus trip back to South West London. Next week we return to Hurlingham for a huge game against Old Habs, but a confident performance will no doubt bring some momentum into the fixture.

  • Tries: 3
  • Conversions: -
  • Penalties: -
  • Drop Goals: -
  • Hammers: -
  • Substitutes: -
  • Debut: -
  • Man of the Match: -
  • Tin Man: -