A Glorified Game of Stuck in the Mud

Hammersmith & Fulham made the trip up to Watford this weekend to what can only be described as a fierce London derby against Fullerians. The home side have proven themselves as strong opponents this season with notable victories against Old Priorians and Belsize Park. With this in mind, the boys from West London prepared themselves for what would be a major test in the club’s journey to success this season, and a possible turning point to re-igniting the teams early form in the league.

On arrival, the gravity of the situation hit the boys as hard as a Tuesday night fitness session from Ian Burbedge. Soon after arrival, the squad were quickly made aware that all pitches were flooded except for one… this was not what Hammers wanted to hear given their fairly unproblematic and successful performance in the league so far, number 5 second row looked especially worried as he pulled out his molds ready for a day of scrummaging in the mud.

As predicted, Fullerians came out pumped up for a battle and set the tone with some strong early carries into a stern opposing line, this was followed by some kick tennis, ending with a line out for Hammers in enemy territory. Tommy Proctor licked his lips with anticipation as he began to dream up the fabulous line out to follow, which was executed perfectly. However, the following maul set up went straight to ground, referee awarding the first of many scrums, and such began the long game of stuck in the mud.

Hammers were first to draw blood in the game early after 13 mins following a great steal challenging the Fullerians disorganised line out. They quickly shifted the ball to the edge attacking with great pace in the backs and then quickly turned inwards punching holes through the Fullerians back line until Jacob Poulton carried the ball (and two or three defenders) across the line with him to put the reds up by 5. Joe Carolan followed up with the conversion, which unbeknownst to him at the time, gave the best conversion rate so far this season at 100%, and we can only wish this continues.

However the home side didn’t wait long to respond and the clean sheet for Hammers was dirtied only minutes after their own score. Fullerians struck initially through their strong scrum pushing Hammers back into their own 22. Following some strong defense from the away team, Fullerians eventually attacked the blind side and scored through a fabulous offload opening up the space for their winger to finish on the touchline. Luckily the conversion didn’t go over, leaving the score at 5-7, which it remained until the final whistle.

Following the score from the home side, the weather worsened leading to poor handling from both sides. Along with some turnstile defense from the away team the home side were able to continue pushing forward and exerting their strength in the scrums. Hammers subsequently made a change to the front row to attempt to combat the Fullerian dominance in the scrum with the strength and experience of Andrew Rogan, at the sprightly age of 41 and 100 caps for the club… He was subsequently yellow carded 5mins later.

More exhilarating scrummaging continued after half time on the ever-deteriorating pitch with plenty of errors in attack from both sides. Returning winger Matt Killeen took great pleasure in dishing out his signature chat to his opposite number and hunted the next of 6 tries that would get him back to top dog in tries for the season, however it just wasn’t meant to be.

Late in the day Fullerians earned themselves a penalty 30 meters out with the chance to take the lead but couldn’t convert and some determined defense and control on the ball got Hammersmith & Fulham through to the final whistle and four points to put them 12 up at the top of the league.

This week H&F are at the fortress of Hurlingham Park facing Aylesbury hoping to emulate their away victory of 53-24 over the side back in October.

Man of the Match – Bryce Morgan

Nause of the Match – Rogan