It was a strong Hammers 3rd that took to Fortress Hurlingham against local rivals Chiswick on a frosty 6th January. Benefiting from a near full compliment of players returning after the festive break, it was a confident captain Steve Harris (15) led the boys in a warm-up characterised by the typical positivity and a forgiving demeanour from Andrew Rogan (3) directed at the highly skilled but low-functioning Billy-f*£king-Rylance (6).
After a delayed kick-off, the boys received the kick-off from a Chiswick only to find themselves quickly on the defensive. What followed was sustained period of pressure that lasted for approximately 15 minutes but was characterised by excellent line-speed defence and bone-crunching tackles. The second row pairing of Thomas Broadway and Tim Lawson was especially physically, backed up by a beefier George O’hara (2), who put his xmas-added muscle to good use by not taking a back foot against the direct running of the powerful Chiswick forwards. Nevertheless, after a fluid passage of play that saw Chiswick stretch the Hammers defense, they eventually scored out wide in a well deserved try, opening the scoring at 5-0. Game on.
The boys quickly bounced back. A short line out in the Hammers 30m mark was ably called, caught and passed by Tim Lawson, who passed to Dave Buchanan (9) in what would prove the start of a man-of-the-match performance at 9. Dave fed Jack Davies (10) who found the waiting hands of Mark Johnson (8). A swift sidestep found a hole, and after big meters he offloaded to Rylance who ran it further, before finding the waiting hands of Taylor (13). Taylor then ran it if from approximately 35 meters out, beating defenders to score in the corner. Hammers back in the game.
Two quick tries followed. Direct running by Josh Myers (12) up the guts from our own half created opportunities out wide that were exploited by Jack Davies to score near the posts. Minutes later a powerful rolling maul followed, grinding its way to the line before Cillian Bane (11) – in what was the first of a brace of tries – somehow got the ball and scored under the posts. 3-tries-to-1 up.
At this point the typical Hammers ‘forget-what-got-you-there’ period began. A series of penalties saw Chiswick fight their way back in the Hammers corner for a line out they won, before they spun it to the mid-field and poor tackling allowed them to score near the posts. Shortly after, a uncharacteristic miss-kick for touch was caught on the Chiswick 10 meter line by their 15 who had wheels. He then proceeded to carve up the field and take advantage of Hammers dog-leg defence. 3 tries a piece, with only the Hammers more accurate goal kicking keeping them ahead by 4.
Despite these setbacks, the boys emerged from the half confident that their skills and fitness would see them out. What followed was a brilliant mix of running Rugby and a score board that regulatory ticked over. Line-outs led to mauls, and powered by the legs of Simon Khalil tries were scored. Front foot ball led to gaps out wide, exploited by Sol Lucas (14), and Cillian Waldron (13, replacement). Whilst Chiswick did score again, to get within 5 points, the last 20 minutes saw a brace of tries take the final score out to 48-26. Full time!
In a season where the wins have been hard to come by at times, such a commanding performance bodes well for the second half of the season. Here’s to next week!