The day was Saturday the 13th of November year of our lord 2021, it was a mild November day dry and about 14 degrees at Hurlingham park where this titanic top of the table clash was to take place. Despite this mild weather Huw Parks still found it cold enough to wear his Welsh Students warm up top, which was a point of contention as we were about to play London Welsh, getting his DOD nomination in early.
Despite the uncertainty over Huws’ allegiance there was a palpable excitement amongst the team during warm up, lineout darts were looking sharp, Nugget was in his finest Merrell hiking boots and the backs were looking slick. The only concern was from Rich Vaughn who was concerned the wind was blowing South Easterly not Easterly, another putting in a strong DOD nomination.
The game kicked off with great ferocity, some strong kick chasing straight from the off caused errors all over the Welsh backline. With ball in hand the carrying was aggressive, strong carrying from the pack put the Welsh defensive line under more pressure resulting in a handful of penalties. We managed to win a penalty and put ourselves in the corner for an attacking lineout 5 meters out. As in the warmup, the darts were sharp, and a powerful maul saw Max Imfield over for the first points of the game. Conversion missed 5-0 to the hosts.
The pressure kept on showing as the penalty count of the visitors mounted, Huw Parks proved his loyalty by slotting a 3 pointer between the sticks making it 8-0.
The Welsh gathered their composure and after seeing our impressive structure scored their first points of the game by using a driving maul. Conversion missed putting the score at 8-5.
The second half was closed out by some strong Hammersmith pressure, the Jacks and Queens flying into the Welsh defensive line, strong carrying from the back row allowing Ash Mitchell to win a penalty in front of the sticks. Hammers opted for the 3 pointer and there was no mistake from Mr Parks. Score at halftime 11-5.
The second half started in much the same way as the first half, with unbridled aggression. This resulted in another penalty to Hammersmith in the Welsh 22. Huw got his first points of the second half with another fine kick to make it 14-5.
However, London Welsh rallied after this and after several phases of defence on our own line Welsh dove over out wide to score a try. Conversion made 14-12.
This was the wakeup call Hammers needed to close out this game, like the ice bucket challenge the attack was refreshed. Strong running from Rich Vaughn and Sam ‘the eel’ Nursey put Rufus Falkner-Lee into acres of space, as he galloped down the line like a gazelle, the hopes of the crowd were lifting as a try would seal out the game. However instead of feeding the ball to the fullback in a 2 on 1. He decided he was Louis Rees-Zammit and kicked the ball straight into the opposition fullback and instead of letting the ball go into touch for an attacking lineout, he decided to be charitable and carry it out himself. A really strong DOD nomination.
Despite the self-sabotage from Rufus, we managed to win the ball back, compound pressure which resulted in a penalty and Huw Parks made no mistake from the tee. Score 17-12.
During the final minutes, nerves were jangling, as the crowed watched on with great anxiety. The seconds managed to absorb the pressure. Matt Newman, decided enough was enough, went from Scrumhalf to flanker to secure a game winning penalty.
Fulltime Hammers 17 London Welsh 12.
Try: Max Imfield x1
Penalties: Huw Parks x4
Man of the Match: Scott Howe
DOD: Rufus Falkner-Lee
Wordsmith: Chris Ralph