2nd XV Mens Enjoy and Destroy!

A cold, greasy morning met the Hammers 2s as they awoke early for trip to Barnes to scrape their collective knees on the 4G at Rosslyn Park to take on the Bs. Some didn’t make it out of bed however and the usual Saturday morning reshuffle began with lads going up and down the teams like a game of snakes and ladders. This was made more farcical with the opposition announcing they didn’t have a full front row, a proclamation which made the tight 5 say “well what’s the bloody* point of this then” in unison (*the language was far more effervescent as you can imagine from the brains trust but kids might read this), awarding us a 14-0 “lead” to start the game with and then deciding they’d pushed the kick off back a half hour, meaning we may not have gotten back to see Rogan get his 100th cap, without telling us. Infuriating…

Captain Ross Anderson used this to fire up the boys with a rousing pre match speech full of blue face paint and encouraging language meaning the game started with Hammers receiving and putting in some big carries early on. A good set of phases and some intelligent kicking from our Scottish half back pairing, second only to Ali Price and Finn Russell in my eyes, put us in the oppos 22 early on and fly half Sandy Duncan started his man of the match display by orchestrating the team around the park before dancing his way through the defence and under the posts. Max Dugdale duly converted and the Hammers were 7-0 up (we’ll add the silly “forfeit” tries later to avoid confusion, mostly mine) and looking to extend quickly. A Rosslyn Park lineout on their own 5m was pressurised heavily by Adam Stannard leading to a scrambled exit that was excitedly charged down by Hammers with Sandy Duncan almost collecting his second, only for the post to interfere allowing Huwilagi Parks (I’ll stop now) to reap the rewards from a better period of play. Dugdale M converted again and Hammers were feeling relatively happy at 14-0.

The early pressure did not hold however and had the Hammers putting pressure on themselves by playing too loosely allowing Rosslyn Park to pounce on a poor kick and get into the Hammers 22. Some soft tackling and lacklustre defence gave them the foothold they needed and they soon scored leading to a much needed talking to from coach Nugget. Hammers responded and got the pressure back on Rosslyn Park with some intelligent kicking and some lovely work in the wide channels from our very own Honey Badger, Rich Vaughan, on his first game back in long while. With no scrums in their legs the front row were tasked with doing more around the pitch and hooker Ash Mitchell gleefully stepped up and stepped his way through a number of good carries, which even prompted a rare compliment from Nugget, getting us back towards the Rosslyn Park try line before a Hammers scrum gave Number 8 Ainsley Howard the sort of stability that he could only dream of to have a go at the whitewash himself.

A great carry got us close and a slick backs move almost got us in, a loud call from the right wing then followed suggesting an overlap and some lovely take and give passing first from second row Connor Spruz and then tighthead Rob McKeon, bucking his usual trend for passing to the opposition in the wide channels, put George Nellany in for a well worked try. Dugdale on point once again and the lead extended back out to 21-5. Sustaining these periods was however clearly the issue for the day as Hammers let Rosslyn Park back into the game with a very soft try before half time leaving the boys knowing they needed to up their game in the second half.

The second half started well with back rowers Rob Vaughan, also recently returned to join his twin brother on the field of battle, and Will Parker, a morning call up to the side, putting themselves about, making good hits and threatening turnovers parking us in the opposition 22 again. A good lineout move on the left hand side of the pitch set up more pressure on the try line before Dougy Maxwell completed the front row’s earlier task by scoring in the left corner with what he recalled later in the Temperance as a majestic dive but in truth the air time was heavily hampered by the few weeks of honeymooning he’d recently done in America. The additional holiday weight would have been very helpful in the scrums but alas it was not to be. A fantastic touchline conversion from Ben Hatton took the score up to 28-10 and it seemed as though Hammers might finally build some consistency from this point.

This wasn’t the case however and Rosslyn Park clawed their way back into the game with two tries which could have been more if it wasn’t for a great lineout steal from Adam Stannard and some crucial turnovers from Sandy Duncan earning his MOTM award with hard, body on the line defence. The game hit the hour mark heralding the Hammersmith and Fulham debut of Ben Hibberd in the backline and with Hammers needing the turn the tide back in their favour he quickly put his Queensland rugby league experience to good use by running hard lines into, and through, a tired Rosslyn Park defence to give us front foot ball. A period of sustained pressure was interrupted by a head injury, that was fortunately not too bad, but Hammersmith didn’t let up and Rich Vaughan finally crossed over for his well-deserved try and earning himself a whole team group hug. It’s good to have you back mate. The emotion of the moment clearly got to Max as he missed the conversion leaving the score at 33-20 which is where it finished.

Add in the forfeit tries, which I’ll allow the boys to fight over on Instagram, and we won out 47-20 in the end. Someone needed to tell Nugget that as he seemed to suggest afterward that we’d have lost if it wasn’t for those extra two tries. Clearly he’d missed a couple of our tries somewhere, probably whilst remonstrating about the lack of scrums with Ed Wynne on the side line, earning him the DOTD title.

All in all an inconsistent performance with all of us agreeing that we never really got out of 3rd gear and that a significant improvement will be needed if we’re going to get revenge on London New Zealand next week. Hopefully Ben Hatton will remember to use the facilities before the game this time around…

Final Score 47-20

Tries – Sandy Duncan, Huw Parks, George Nellany, Doug Maxwell, Rich Vaughan, 2 forfeit tries

Conversions – Max Dugdale (3/4), Ben Hatton (1/1)

MOTM – Sandy Duncan

DOTD – Nugget for thinking we’d have lost the game without those extra points even though we scored 5 tries to their 4