Blisters, Bonus Points & a Belter!

Only 2 hours before beers were being drunk and a very out of tune rendition of Gerry Cinnamon’s ‘Belter’ poured out of changing room 6, there was a huge task ahead of the men in red at Fortress Hurlingham.

On a slightly warmer Saturday, 2 weeks after a 1-point loss to Old Priorians, Hammers were up against a very tough London Irish opposition who had only recently beaten Old Priorians by 1 point themselves. A late change to the line-up saw Ash Mitchell replace Pete Clark at 6 due to illness and Pete Morris back in the starting line-up at 10 after a knee injury in September. London Irish kicked off and very early on earned a penalty which got the scoreboard underway – 3-0 Irish. Hammers knew they needed a response and after a scrappy first 10 minutes, it was Bryce Morgan on the end of some slick hands and some good pace to touchdown in the corner. 5-3 Hammers.

Soon after however, Irish earned themselves another penalty in the Hammers half and pulled themselves back ahead thanks to the boot of Henry Fuller. 6-5 Irish. Another response needed by the Hammers and that was what they got. The frantic start to the game began to turn into control and maturity, which after some good build up play and strong carrying, Josh Smith crossed the whitewash for his 7th try of the season (watch out Joe Carolan). It wasn’t long though before some more ill discipline saw Fuller put the ball through the uprights to pull the scoreboard back to within 3 points. HT 12-9 Hammers.

Both teams stayed out on the field for half time and after a handful of Haribo’s the second half was underway. The ironically named pick & go call of ‘NAILS!’ from Irish Hammered the Hammers defence. Some more steady build up play led to Bryce Morgan limping over the line for his second try due to blisters from his new boots. 17-9 Hammers. The momentum was with Fulham and after a brilliant turnover from Pete Morris, they made good use of some more possession as Man of the Match Ross Anderson touched down to make it 24-9 Hammers. Irish then awoke and came right back with some heavy carrying to make it 24-16. Game back on.

This is when the Tuesday night fitness sessions started to show though, men in green limped off but Hammers did not take their foot off the gas. It wouldn’t be a Saturday without a try from Joe Carolan and he got what he deserved after some good footwork and a moan of disappointment from Irish, the scoreboard looked a little healthier again. 31-16 Hammers. An AC joint injury to Will Donegan saw the return of Zak Underwood to the front row, and the Irish scrum was going backwards. However, some more ill-discipline gave Irish 3 points to add to their tally and they were back to within 2 scores. 31-19 Hammers. A smart penalty kick of our own soon took the gap to 15 points again with 5 mins to play. 34-19 Hammers.

In a frantic final few minutes, Irish pulled a try back making it 34-26. The kick-off was put deep into the Irish half and some nervy phases were well attached & defended by both teams. A turnover meant Hammers had possession 15m out from the Irish line – both wingers Tim Russell & Matt Killeen screaming for the ball to come wide, which meant it had to pass through the hands of 106 cap man Andrew Rogan. It seemed he had ideas of his own however, charging forward before changing his mind last second and managing to free the ball to Matt Killeen who made his way through 2 defenders to seal the 5 points for Hammersmith & Fulham. Full Time 41-26 Hammers.