Hammers put in a big performance vs Welyn

On a wet gloomy Saturday, the Hammers 1st XV were on call to defend Hurlingham fortress against a Welwyn team sitting bottom of the league with something to prove. Few of the present boys were part of the squad that lost to them both times last season, and were as eager, as Mitch on a night out, to make amends.

With the rain spitting down, it was up to Ben Hatton’s little quads to get the game under way. With his first game back from injury, nerves must have been a plenty as the kick-off was fluffed. Scrum to Welwyn, middle of the pitch. Time for the boys to square off. The scrum held its own, which for some reason was a surprise to the Hammers backs, as they were split across the pitch. Welwyn ran a set piece, going straight through the formidable centre Hammer pairing of Waldron and Hooper, which led to a try under the sticks. Some say missed tackle – ‘Tomatoe/Tomato’.

Not the ideal start Hammers were looking for.

With a better restart, Hammers started to get into the game, and putting on the pressure. Welwyns game plan was evident, keep the ball down in the Hammers half. Little did they realise, Zac was throwing darts that the Ally Pally crowd would have been screaming “One Hundred and Eighty” for. The ferocious Hammers pack assembled into their trademark maul, which the opposition couldn’t handle. Penalties gave way which the Hammers did not capitalise on until, Joe was given a crack at goal, which he slotted between the posts. 3 points. Hammers were in the game.

More pressure followed and the trusted boot of Joe put Hammers in the corner. Hammer forwards assembled, and were going over the line but impeded by a side entry.  Penalty try. Hammers take the lead, and there they would stay.

Some loose kicking into the hands of our Asian-Persuasion winger JLO who was allowed counter, hand-off and make yards got Hammers good fielding position. Taylor ran some good lines, not in the direction his nose was pointing but actually in fact straight. As he made another break, with plenty of support players around him to make the easy pass, he decided to choose the harder option and grubbers one in behind, only for the young Benson to pounce on it over the line. Another try, and Hammers started to take control.

Kick off came deep and caught by the try-scorer Benson, who ran straight back at them, making good yards until he offloaded to Captain fantastic who benefited from running a superb support line. Like a scene from a safari, Josh gallivanting as graceful as a giraffe being chased down by a pack of wolves. The giraffe prevailed. Another try. Only one more try needed for the bonus.

With momentum fully on the side of Hammers, more breaks ensued, and strong carries from the likes of Steve, and Zander. Another dazzling break from Jlo creating a two on one opportunity. Man drawn, and pass given, only the try line beckoned, but ball dropped. Surely, classic Jordan was on the pitch, but it was in fact Joe the butcher.

Half time 22-7

With all the pressure mounting on the Welwyn side, they didn’t help themselves when referee had to issue Taylor’s favourite card to one of their players for a swinging arm. Hammers did not relent. Joes ‘out-of-hand’ kicking technique named the helicopter, kept the pressure on, and kept the travelling side deep down in their own half.

Hammers then forced their way into the Welwyn 22 looking for that bonus point. Whilst the backs stood there pretty as can be, screaming for the ball to come out to them, the mouldy forwards were having none of it. All their hard work, they wanted the bragging points for themselves and kept picking and going. With one final push, they managed to get over the line. Another try. Bonus point secured, and surely the total five pointer.

Hammers stamped down their authority on the game, with the human hinge, and club captain himself Rogan making carries (not yards), and being a nuisance at the breakdown. This lead to another break into Welwyn twenty-two, and another assist, in as many games, from the lion heart, Alex, as he passed out of the tackle following a quick pick and go to Ben. Five points guaranteed for Hammers but they weren’t finished just yet.

Whilst the LA Rams were in London for the weekend, Ben decided to show off his own NFL skills with a pass straight from the scrum to Jlo on the blind side, who ran, and danced his way over the line. Touchdown! Half the boys back where the scrum occurred, it was a bit of disbelief what had happened. Referee looked over at the touch-judge, but no complaints there. Brady would have been proud of that one.

Full time 44-7

Hammers 1s get the win and the bonus point!

Stumbling out the Rylston many pints (of water) down the Hammers headed to Hurlingham Park inspired to show why we would have been playing in the world cup ourselves if it weren’t for the teenage rugby injuries that cut all our pro careers short.

A poor turn out of tins for the post game celebrations was a bad start to the day, not improved much when Coach ‘Loves Cowboys’ Mark gave us responsibility for the warm up, only to realise how clueless we were and renege on that idea 5 minutes in. Things could only get better, and they would have to, as all Coach wanted after two back to back draws was a clean 5 pointer.

With Josh ‘Leader Legend’ Mclean enjoying some R&R on the sideline, Rogan ‘The Human Hinge’ took on the mantle of rallying the boys to the cause, avoiding the use of dumb statements about spiders completely. It was Rogan’s reminder that this was the last time we would have to assuage Alex ‘Supersize’ Gee’s delusions of speed that the hype got real, leading to a motivated team hitting the park.

As the match kicked off it became clear that Letchworth hadn’t received the memo about our clean 5 pointer and decided to make a game of it. Some hard-fought phases of possession for both sides followed, with the early stalemate eventually being broken by a Joe ‘Sweet Caroline’ Carolan penalty kick.

Having got the scoreboard going Hammers continued to apply pressure, with patience and well executed forward plays setting up a good platform for Joe to add to his tally, stepping inside a rushed defence and touching down under the posts for a try and a conversion, setting the score at 10 – 0 with 25 on the clock.

Before the party could get started Letchworth hit back, pinning the Hammers down five metres from our own line for an aggressive session of scrummaging. The scrummaging went on for way too long, eventually being broken up when the ref partook in some ball on ball action. With the resumption of play Sam ‘Vahaamahina’ White swiftly got sent off for 10 on the naughty step following yet another scrum (Some say he was guilty of simply wanting it too much, some say his desire and aggression got the better of him, some say he was high, some say he simply let Swaino down.). Finally the scrummaging stopped, but at the cost of a try as the Letchworth backs executed a first phase line break 10 metres out, rounding off the half with a conversion.

Half-time score Hammers 10, Letchworth 7.

With all to play for, 1 man still sitting out trying to work out why he got a yellow, and the clean 5 pointer clearly at risk, the second half got under way to a tense hush amongst the Hurlingham faithful. A few more minutes of 14 on 15 rugby happened, before Alex ‘Probably the best Alex’ Hart got released by Carolan down the 15m channel, executing with sublime grace and swiftness a ‘Hart-Stopping’ show and go, draw and give combo straight out of Mark’s dreams to put Taylor ‘Oh wait I’m fine’ Williams in for a much-needed try (unconverted).

Even more rugby happened, and the game started to get loose as both sides’ attacks started to open up tired defences. Letchworth ultimately broke back with a nice try off a good line break and supporting runs, bringing the game back to within a score at 15 – 12. Letchworth still didn’t let up, and tested Hammers further, eventually going for a penalty to level the game.

Catching a break as the penalty missed its mark, the Hammers showed strong resolve to take back the momentum of the game, making good attacks and pressing deep into the opposition’s half. With strong Letchworth defence nevertheless persisting, it took a beautiful lofted miss pass to unlock it, unnervingly caught and touched down by James ‘Vice‘ Lo on the wing to bring the score to 22 – 12 with a great Carolan conversion.

With time running out for a fourth try the Hammers kept up the attacking intent, an inspired Sam ‘Definitely wishes he was Swaino’ White made amends and put Taylor through a gap in the Letchworth midfield. Taylor ‘yellow’s my favourite colour’ Williams did the rest, channelling his inner Beauden to chip over the cover defence before collecting the bounce and dotting down for the bonus-point try (converted).

The last few minutes got more expansive than anyone wanted as Rogan did his best impression of a 15 covering deep in the back field, leaving no one in doubt as to why he belongs in the front row. Letchworth kept on keeping on however, testing us until the end when a marginal forward pass denied them a well worked consolation try. Final whistle blown, final score 29 – 12, a good game all round, cheers to Letchworth.

With the 5 points in the bank pushing Hammers to 4th in the league the ritual sounds of super fives could be heard across Fulham long into the night. Long live Hammers.

Hammers continue the tradition…and draw 13-13 against Old Cranleighans

And so, the glorious Hammers arrived in unfamiliar territory.  Is this a hockey club? Asked a bemused (and nameless) Hammers 2nd rower.

And indeed it was, but also a rugby club, and football, golf, netball, shooting, sailing, squash, and tennis club as well. A swiss army knife of a place.

Sharing a changing room with another team, the mood was confused. Anticipation watered down by the bucketing rain- the first of the 19/20 season.

After the warmup, with the wise and direct words of coach Mark ‘Jacko’ Jackson ringing in their ears, the boys in red, white, and blue set about the task of a cup run.

Immediately, they came under a barrage of fire from a well drilled, aggressive OC’s pack. Taking a solid few minutes of pressure, eventually the hammers cracked- a penalty given away in front of the sticks. 3-0 to OC’s.

The kick-off went deep, and immediately the privately educated chaps of deepest Surrey were on the offensive again. In all, hammers spent circa 15 minutes under the cosh to begin the game. That the only try conceded amidst all this time defending came out on OC’s left wing was a blessing. Conversion missed, 8-0 to OC’s.

20 minutes in, Hammersmith finally got their hands on the ball. Powerful runs from the likes of Steve ‘first name’ John up the middle, complemented with the whirling feet and pace of SJ ‘blessed’ Mahon out wide, got the SW6 lads into some strong attacking positions. Inaccurate lineout work and some tricky handling conditions delayed the build-up play, but finally Zac ‘not Phul’ Halliday connected with Jordan ‘nameless’ Abbot, and the hammers got a driving maul working over to the right hand side of OC’s tryline.

Mitchell ‘Mitchell’ Mitchell (Lewis) stepped up and nervelessly slotted the conversion, 8-7 the score.

“Come on OC’s” screamed a local fan, for the thousandth, and not the last, time of the day, but the rest of the half remained scoreless- not through lack of application, but as a result of the deteriorating conditions.

The second half got underway, and honestly not much happened for the first 15 minutes. It rained, hammers dropped the ball. It rained some more, OC’s dropped the ball. The ref blew the whistle, both teams blew chances, etc.

Suddenly, Hammers took the lead. Pragmatic phase play in OC’s half led to a penalty that Joe ‘middlesexy’ Carolan slotted. Nervelessly. as all successful kicks are (without a thesaurus at least). 8-10, the visitors in front for the first time.

This was followed in reasonably quick succession by another penalty, also belted through by Joe ‘JC’ Carolan. 8-13, and the Fulham men started to believe.

Both teams continued to go hammer and tongs at each other. Jack ‘pooper’ Hooper make good yards, Cillian ‘Friday drinks’ Waldron put in some shuddering hits, Sam ‘cambridge’ White made strong runs and threw a couple of cute offloads- Alex ‘2nd best Alex’ Hart the beneficiary making excellent yardage. But, with inaccuracy still present, and the OC’s gaining the upper hand in the scrum, the game slowly progressed.

Suddenly, the scores levelled. Alex ‘Jackos best mate’ Gee gave away a tenuous penalty (in the authors opinion), OC’s kicked, and Ed ‘great education’ James mate an absolute hash of fielding it. From the resulting scrum, OC’s used their only area of superiority to get over the line. The kick was missed, 13 all.

The game went to extra time. Both teams dug in, emptied the tank, and scrapped in the muddy conditions.

But no one could do much of anything, and after 100 minutes of back and forth rugby the scores remained tied.

A check with the rules official, OC’s win on countback, 2 tries scored to 1. A heart-breaking loss for Hammersmith, but always gracious in defeat, genuine congratulations for the victors.

Hammers MOTM and debutant Zac ‘pints’ Halliday absolutely smashed the pint race, so there’s a victory in there somewhere.

Yet another draw against Ye Old Enemy

A date that has been firmly locked in the diary, Hammersmith & Fulham had been targeting this fixture since pre-season. After a stuttering start to the league campaign and a strong showing the week before against Hampstead at home, we made the short trip up the river to near-neighbours Chiswick who were top of the league standings going into the game.

After some honest words from Coach Jackson, H&F made their best start to a game this season by holding on to the ball for multiple phases and strong running lines from Nick Manning and Taylor Williams. A kick to touch from a penalty resulted in a strong driving maul towards the Chiswick line. A final carry off the back from Steve John, who is enjoying a strong first season with the club, resulted in an early try for H&F which was converted by Joe Carolan.

Pete Benson collected the kick off and after generating quick ball, Williams put James Lo into space who went over in the left corner. Carolan missed the conversion with the score 12-0 to H&F. Chiswick’s back 5 in the pack began to get into the game by slowing down Hammers ball at ruck time and making life difficult for scrum half Mitch Lewis. H&F managed to maintain possession and as half time approached they forced an unnecessary wide pass picked off excellently by the Chiswick wing who ran over 50m to touch down under posts for an easy conversion.

The kick off was brilliantly collected by Williams who made good yards up the touch line. Chiswick’s scramble defence forced a kickable penalty for Carolan who converted. H&F went into half time 15-7 up.

Galvanised by their late try before half time, Chiswick began to take advantage of sloppy Hammers decision making and indiscipline. Their fly half began to play them into the right places on the pitch and soon closed the gap with a penalty kick after 10 minutes. Their purple patch continued with a kick to the corner and strong driving maul from a line out that resulted in their second try of the game. Despite the missed conversion off the posts, Chiswick were now level at 15-15.

H&F were unable to find the fluency they had in the first half and Chiswick now had a strong foothold in the game. Another visit to the H&F 22 and multiple phases later ended with a Chiswick score out wide, which was converted giving the home side a 22-15 lead with 15 minutes remaining. It was then up to the Hammers to find an answer to save something from the afternoon. With the final play of the game, Williams fed tight head prop Jacob Poulton – after breaking a couple of Chiswick tackles, Poulton offloaded back to Williams who touched down just to the right of the posts. Carolan stepped up to convert and the game ended 22-22.

The second draw in 5 games between these sides and two valuable league points considering the competitive nature of London 2 NW so far this season. We are away this Saturday to Old Cranleighans in the Intermediate Cup.

 

Man of the Match: Steve John

Tin Man: Mitch Lewis

Debut: Ross Anderson

Hammers get their 1st win of the season!

Japan’s win against Ireland set the premise for what was to be a great day of rugby at Hurlingham Park. The Japanese house music played in the changing rooms before the game served only as motivation for the squad to correct the errors of the last two weeks.

The game started with 10 minutes of heavy pressure from Hampstead attacking from deep in their half and using the wide spaces well. Some good one-on-one tackles from Taylor Williams at fullback prevented a brace of tries early on. Hampstead managed to cross the line in the left-hand corner after a flowing backs move, only for Mitch Lewis to stop the ball from being grounded. The referee deemed the tackle to be high and gave a penalty try.

The Hammers fought back into the game through some dominant play by the forwards which eventually earnt a penalty in the opposition 22 and kicking it to touch. The resulting lineout was well won, and a subsequent maul was finished off by hooker Phil Lord, bringing the scores closer to 5-7. Hampstead recognised the threat posed by the maul and were hesitant to engage the Hammers in this for the remainder of the match.

The Hammers’ scrum remained solid throughout the game which provided a good base for the second try. Angus Lean picked from the base of a scrum 5 metres out and barrelled his way over. Joe Carolan kicked the conversion and the home team finished the half 12-7 up.

The second 40’ was dominated by gritty defence and yellow cards. A good press from the Hammers’ defence allow Hampstead little space in attack and resulted in the early part of this half being played in the visitors’ twenty-two. Mitch Lewis capitalised on this pressure to go over the line after a series of pick and goes from the forwards.

At 17-7 the tide seemed to turn and Hampstead pushed their way back into the game. Tim Williams was yellow carded for a high tackle resulting in 10 minutes of frantic, scrambled yet resilient defence from the home team. Just as Tim was preparing to come back on Taylor Williams momentarily forgot that he had to remain on his feet at a ruck and was penalised 5 metres from Hammers’ line. The referee felt the play to be cynical and while Tim was welcomed back onto the pitch, Taylor was sent for a 10-minute rest. The one-man adva

ntage finally paid off with the Hampstead scrum-half going over in the corner. Conversion successful: 17-14.

The home team controlled the game well from this point on and played the majority of the game from the opposition half. With four minutes to go, an overthrow by the opposition at the lineout allowed Steve John to go over for the fourth try and all-important bonus point.

Final score: Hammersmith & Fulham 22 – 14 Hampstead

10 tries for the 3s in a big win

Hammersmith 3s travelled away to Hampstead in good spirits off the back of a couple of good wins already this season. Blustering winds and rain meant that this was going to be a tough afternoons work.

Hammers kicked off into the wind and didn’t take them long to the establish forward dominance with plenty of good carries. The forward graft paid off and with some fantastic support play, Hammers’ made it over in the corner. From these early exchanges it became clear Hammers’ could control the tempo of the game with the ball in hand, and with a few nice plays off 9 & 10 Hammers’ Centre partnership and wide men were starting to cause damage and starting running riot. Hammers’ fly half managed to engineer a wonderful bit of space for Billy Rylance who was put through 1 on 1 with the full back who unfortunately knocked it on in contact.

Hammersmith went in 27 – 0 at the break.

Running out for the 2nd half spirits were high, with the wind behind them, Hammers’ ran in a few more tries, through big Billy causing havoc at 8, and with the notable speed shown from the left-wing, Hampstead clearly not enjoying them spread the ball wide. Kicking conditions made things very difficult but Hammersmith & Fulham proved very good with ball in hand running in 10 tries.

 

Hammersmith & Fulham 2s put in a performance

For their second league fixture of the season, the Hammers travelled to London Cornish looking for another convincing win off the back of the 72-7 game vs Grasshoppers.

Warm up essentially consisted of walking the 20 miles between the changing rooms and the pitch and both teams were ready for what would be a competitive and physical game. It only took a few minutes for the Hammers to understand that Cornish’s backrow, averaging 6’2’’, would be the core of their attacking structure, facing a tough but vertically challenged 7-8 combination made of Ash and Jack Small.

Strong carries by the Cornish and lack of discipline from the Hammers gave the Cornish’s kicker an opportunity to get on the scoreboard and after 10 minutes the score was 3-0 for the locals. Good pressure on the following kick off allowed the Hammers to settle in the opposition’s half and eventually resulted in a penalty 25m in front of the posts, duly converted by skipper and fly-half Jack Davies. 3-3 after about 15 minutes.

London Cornish spent most of the first half ball in hand but were consistently denied by a red brick wall. On the other hand, H&F made the best of a few opportunities and a couple of phases after Ashton Mitchell sat down his opposite number, much to the surprise of all involved, Man of the Match Rob Fox ran a superb line and brought the Hammers back into the opposition half, taking advantage of a Cornish’s pair of centres more interested in interceptions than tackles.

As the Hammers got closer to the try line, they were rewarded by a penalty less than 10 meters in front of the posts. Taking everyone by surprise, including his teammates, Jordan Abbott tapped the ball before running into three defenders and scored the first try of the game, converted by Jack Davies. Cornish 3 – 10 HFRFC.

Determined to get back into the game, London Cornish bucked themselves up and set up a siege in Hammersmith’s 22’s for the remainder of the first half. Succession of penalties led to Ollie Rea being yellow-carded for a side entry on a maul. Great 7-man scrum and good pressure from scrum-half Louis van Langenhove forced Cornish’s no.8 to spill the ball out of the scrum and half-time was called before the local team could cross the white wash.

Second half started with a few amends in the backline, Slade Buchner having to move from second row to outside centre after the 1s drafted Ross Anderson. HFRFC quickly gained a penalty 25m on the right of the posts and Jack Davies didn’t miss the opportunity to increase the visitors’ lead. Cornish 3 – 13 HFRFC.

After spending the first half playing one-pass rugby off the nine, London Cornish decided the play wide and managed to make a break on the wing and enter the Hammers’ 22s. HFRFC’s infamous lack of discipline eventually offered a penalty 15m in front of the posts and opposition’s fullback had no problem kicking the ball over the bar. London Cornish 6 – HFRFC 13.

50 minutes into the game and Hammersmith and Fulham finally managed to play their game. Strong carries by Rob Fox and Sam White combined to a few penalties in Hammers’ favour moved the game into Cornish’s 22s. Sam White, again, used the momentum created by a good driving maul to get the Hammers on the try line and a couple of phases later, Ed Milner got the ball off the nine, bumped into a couple of defenders and scored under the posts. Try easily converted by Jack Davies (6/6 off the tee). London Cornish 6 – HFRFC 20.

As the Cornish were running after the score, the game became more open to the benefit of Hammers’ back three who thought this moment would never come.

Following another powerful driving maul in the opposition’s half, scrum-half Louis van Langenhove broke the defensive line in the middle of the park before offloading the ball to captain Jack Davies who then played wide for full-back Sam Smith. Another offload to this weekend’s second row/outside centre Slade Buchner and Chad’s second favourite brother put the ball down between the posts. Jack Davies added the conversion. London Cornish 6 – 27 HFRFC.

Few minutes later, a good call by Rob Fox allowed Sam N. to go for a run along the sideline before passing the ball inside to Sam S. Captain Jack picked the ball up, stepped the last defender and rewarded himself with a try underneath the posts before converting it. London Cornish 6 – 34 HFRFC.

Much to their credit, London Cornish didn’t give up whilst loosehead Sam White demonstrated why front-rows should never kick the ball. Last five minutes saw Ollie Rea being sent off for a second yellow card after he deliberately prevented the opposition scrum-half from tapping a penalty which could have resulted in a try. One minute later, it was Sam White’s turn to be yellow-carded for kicking the ball in a ruck, five meters away from the tryline. With two Hammer’s front rowers in the bin, London Cornish logically chose the scrum option. Little did they know that Jordan Abbott’s secret dream was to be a loosehead prop and as the Cornish found themselves under huge pressure from a 13-man defensive line, the ball was lost in contact and Hammersmith won the game without conceding a try.

Final score: London Cornish 6 – 34 Hammersmith & Fulham RFC.

 

Hammersmith and Fulham 1st underwhelm against Hackney

Following up from two good training sessions this week Hammers were keen for a repeat of last year a win up in Hackney.

So, under a shining sun the match began. The first twenty minutes were challenging for the Hammers as Hackney put up a strong attack. Hammers defence struggling to click, and Hackney very quickly put 10 points on the board.

Finally, after Hammers managed to get into Hackneys half.  A strong lineout on the Hackney 5 meter line with the forwards pushing forward with pick and goes until Pete Benson managed to dive over the line for the try took the score to 10-5

Hackney soon responded by breaking through the Hammers line with another try. 17-5.  Minutes later, a clever kick over the Hammers defensive line followed by some Hammers indiscipline gifted Hackney a penalty in front of the posts. 20-5

Suffering from a yellow card thanks to some unneeded commentary from Taylor as the referee’s effectiveness, Hackney capitalised and manage to get a scrum on the Hammers 5 meter line, and with some pick and goes managed to score putting the score at 27-5

Now it was Hackneys turn to have a player in the bin soon after Hammers managed to put pressure on Hackney again working up the pitch. For Hammers second try there was a brilliant play by the backs for Jack Hooper to cross the line, taking the to 27-12 going into the half.

The second half was much better defensively for the Hammers, however we still still couldn’t finish off in the attack. The game in the second half was a game of turnovers and defence where the Hammers managed to keep a clean slate however so did Hackney.

With the final whistle, the score was still 27-12.

Hammers will go back to training on Tuesday ready to prepare for next week as they take on Hampstead at home.

Hammersmith and Fulham RFC 1st XV v Grasshoppers 1st XV

“Rugby is a good occasion for keeping thirty bullies far from the city”

– Oscar Wilde

After concluding pre-season activity with a hard-fought, albeit much-deserved victory against a talented Old Reigatians’ side, Hammersmith and Fulham’s (H&F) league season commenced under the glorious September sun with a testing fixture at home to Grasshoppers RFC (GH). Following a solid week of preparation, H&F hoped to make good on some of the ills of our previous game and fly quickly out of the gate in order to draw first blood.

And it was so! With pressure applied straight from the off, powerful carries from Angus Lean and Pete Benson carried H&F over the gain line on numerous occasions. Making inroads into the GH defence startled the opposition, who were unable to effectively coordinate a defensive press. The inability to deal with the H&F onslaught by the away team resulted in a number of penalties, enabling Ben Hatton to provide a masterclass in kicking for touch. Off these foundations, the Hammers forwards were able to execute two superb catch-and-drive routines from the lineout, cutting through the Grasshoppers defence like a hot knife through the proverbial. Whilst under pressure from the Hammers pack, the GH forwards were found wanting, and resorted to collapsing the maul resulting in a penalty try. Soon after, without any sort of response to the Hammers newfound driving expertise honed with thanks to the wisdom of Phil Swainston midweek, H&F crashed over once again to make the score 12-0 after 15 minutes.

After the first quarter, the H&F dominance was unquestionable, and it wasn’t until a delayed reaction to a GH penalty that H&F allowed the opposition to establish a foothold in the game. Two tries in quick succession against the run of play took H&F by surprise, as did GH growing wise to the aggressive lineout tactics and deciding not to engage in mauls, instead stepping aside. This caught H&F off-guard, and the ensuing confusion was capitalised on by GH who eventually went on to score a third.

Score at half-time: 12-17. With the mercury touching 26 degrees, this provided a much-needed break for both sides, particularly for the likes of Zander Stephen, who was less than impressed with the decision to remain outside for duration.

H&F stormed into the second half in a similar fashion to the first, applying pressure to which GH had no answer. Strong ball carries from Josh McClean and Andrew Rogan ground down the GH defence This provided the H&F backs a solid platform from which they were able to sling the ball out wide, with Alex Gee taking advantage of his physicality with a marauding run into the GH half. The words ‘bull’ and ‘china shop’ come to mind.

After setting up camp close to the GH try line, H&F were relentless in attack, with wave after wave of pick-and-go leaving the GH defence in tatters. Such persistence eventually bore fruit, with Phil Lord rolling like a kiwi boulder over the line.

This converted try and a following penalty put H&F in the driving seat with the scores at 22-17. The grit and determination of H&F was evident for all to see, and perhaps if it wasn’t for a spate of H&F injuries in quick succession, the final result may have been different. Alas, GH were able to make the most of their numerical advantage and converted a try which was then converted. At the 65th minute mark, the scores sat at 22-24.

In keeping with the nature of a game, most definitely in contention for game of the season if such an accolade was recognised by the powers that be at London 2 North West, H&F once again charged into GH, as Taylor Williams leapt like an Australian salmon, plucking the ball out of the sky from the restart and maintaining possession. After a physical backand-forth in the twilight period of the game, H&F were in need of a spark of brilliance in order to tip the scales back in favour of the home side. Although such a spark failed to materialise, Joe Carolan superbly anticipated a clumsy pass from a GH back row, allowing him to score under the sticks, with the try easily converted by Ben Hatton. 29-29.

With the score so delicately poised, and the fluidity of the game showing no sign of ceasing, both sides were in for a nervy final few minutes. As H&F pushed for the win, a turnover and subsequent breakaway by the GH eight put H&F on the back foot. Whether the raw emotion of an such an enthralling game, or lack of hydration, or a combination of the two got to the H&F hooker, a brief moment of madness awarded GH a penalty which was then converted, bringing the scores to 29-32.

AS H&F continued to press as the game drew to a close, both a solid defensive display from GH and a bout of attacking misfortune (Good Lord) that had seemed to plague H&F throughout the afternoon, enabled GH to hold out for the win.

Final score 29-32.

As is always the case, a loss in a game of such close margins is always difficult to take, and H&F will be aware that they most definitely had the expertise to emerge victorious. The Hammers will be looking to get back to winning ways away at Hackney this weekend, as the charge for the title continues.