After a hard fought draw away at Ealing Hammers were looking forward to the familiarity of being back at Hurlingham Park. However fate and a lack of hot water intervened resulting in the home fixture against Pinner being played at the neutral ground of Chiswick Rugby Club. Hammers on the losing side after a very tight game the last time these two meet.
Following a solid warm up, Hammers took themselves by surprise, having the vast majority of the initial territory and possession. This new found intensity from the kick off just resulted in confusion leading to a number of poor decisions in the final quarter. Eventually allowing the big ball carriers of Pinner an easy run into Hammers half and a simple 3 points.
A less good start from the resulting kick off and a couple of missed tackles left Hammersmith and Fulham back in their own 22. Despite and number of ‘body on the line’ tackles keeping Pinner’s large pack a few feet short for a number of minutes the second row eventually managed to barrel over leaving Hammers 0-10 down.
Being back in this familiar territory helped calm the nerves, the scrum and line out, initially under pressure, shored up. Resulting in good clean ball for both the backs and forwards to start playing their structures, despite the loss of the hard running Joey Graham at outside centre.
10 minutes later though , after a number of silly penalties Hammers were back on their own try line.
It was time stand up and be counted…..
Big carry after big carry charged at the Hammersmith line and each time they were repelled. Across the pitch Hammers players fronted up and most importantly went LOW! Pinner came so close that the eventual knock on was over the try line.
A quick scrum, pick from Tilbrook and box kick from Will Finn saw hammers jogging back up the pitch with their heads held high. It was game on. After some sustained pressure and a solid kick of Chris Jager Hammers went in at half-time 3 – 10.
Who knows if it was De wolfs team talk, the appearance of Captain Will Parker or Emmetts shouts of encouragement from the side-line? Hammersmith and Fulham stormed into the second half, the structures worked, a few big carries and a solid scrum saw them 20 feet short of the Pinner try line. Great forward pressure form a number of pick and go’s leading to the inevitable try for Zander Stephan on debut. The resulting conversion drawing the scores level at 10 apiece.
Hammers had the momentum, a few classy breaks in the back line and the ball was back with the forwards and most importantly back in Pinner’s 22. Again they had no answer to the pick and Jager got in on the action to dot down next the posts. A simple conversion and it was 17-10.
This time it was Pinner who needed a strong come back and they did. A couple of minutes in the 22, their big ball carriers sucked in the Hammersmith defence leaving a hole big enough for the centre to stroll through and score in the corner. The tricky conversion was missed meaning Hammersmith and Fulham had a 2 point lead heading into the final quarter of the match.
It was Pinner however who had the possession and territory; it was once again time for the Hammers defence to show what it was made of. Forwards coming off the base of the ruck, tap penalties and strong mid-field runners were time and again stopped in their tracks by players in red shirts.
As the onslaught continued the ref had enough, with the number of penalties leading to a yellow card for Karl Watson on debut. (A week before he’d been playing on the same ground for Chiswick but one night out the Hammers was all it took to convince him to come and play for the friendliest club in London!)
Trying to capitalise on the extra man advantage Pinner opted for the scrum rather than the easy 3 points. But with The American coming off his wing to help out on the flank the Hammersmith scrum held firm.
More ‘body on the line’ tackling in their own 22 resulted in a Hammers player down with a nasty cut to the head, everyone soon relaxed though on the discovery it was only Kane Hands. As a defence continue to hold strong tempers flared, punches were thrown. The resulting yellow card for Pinners tight head prop resulted in 14 men apiece for the remaining 5 minutes.
4 minutes of possession in midfield and victory was almost within Hammers grasp. One last attack from Pinner ended as the cool head of Will Deprez took a good catch under pressure, and cleared into touch. Ending a fantastic game rugby, where both teams walked off knowing they’d given everting. Although it was Hammers walking off with the all important W!
Final Score: 17-15
Man of the match – Mike Spurgeon, continuous and solid defence, putting his body on the line.
Tin Man – Tilbrook, manging to be punched by a prop and failing to land a return.
P.S Huge thanks to Chiswick Rugby Club for use of their facilities and ground.