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.

Old Reigatians 1st XV v Hammers 1s

Old Reigatians’ Twitter account described the fixture as “the final dress rehearsal for the new season”, in fact, neither team was caught mumbling their line out calls or repairing their costumes, instead there was a high-quality game of rugby under the August currant bun.

Old Reigatians (OR) started the first half the better team, dominating the lineout and delivering clean ball to their back line and making solid tackles on the gain-line to prevent H&Fs attack into OR’s half for the first 10 minutes. Once with possession OR denied H&F the ball at the breakdown and continued to work the forwards hard with OR’s no. 5 and 6 who proved to be great ball carriers and consistently made yards through H&Fs defence. This continued pressure ultimately led to a well-worked converted-try for OR, 15 minutes into the game. 7-0.

A strong 30m carry from Alex Gee (H&F 12) gave H&F some breathing room, but it was not to last. OR’s 10 used the prevailing wind to his advantage and deftly put boot to ball. This well-judged kicking put OR in H&Fs 22 dangerously soon after the converted try. OR managed to steal the lineout and possession leading to further pressure on H&F. OR 1st XV, who were proving to be a well-drilled side, worked the ball through the hands and successfully converted another try leaving the scores at 14-0 and 10 minutes to go until half time.

At this point H&F regrouped, showing a character and stamina which had been lacking at points in the previous season, and the defence developed a spine all of a sudden. Angus Lean (H&F 8) hit back with a serious defensive shot that rang out across the Surrey Hills and could only be recreated by a Blaser. With the ball spilled by OR this led to a counter-attack opportunity, and who better to seize a counter-attack moment than our Frenchman Alex Jouan (15). A rapid 40m line break was balanced with the ability to wait and look for support ultimately led to Ben Hatton (9) scoring under the posts with the assistance of Cillian Waldron (13). Ben Hatton with the conversion.14-7 and half-time.

Team talks over. Whistle blown. Game on. H&F came out fired up and fiercely physical in the second half with even Rogan making significant yards and winning the contact contest. A huge effort from the H&F forwards led to a 10m-out scrum being pushed-over the line and a Pete Benson scoring the try, sending OR back to underneath the posts to process the score. Top conversion kicking by Ben Hatton, despite a strong crosswind, levelled the scores at 14-14.

H&F had the wind and put boot to ball in an aggressive fashion, opening up the game and involving the back 3 on both teams. H&F gained some territory before a half-break and subtle offload by Joe Carolan (H&F 10) meant Jack Hopper (11) could whistle across the line and take H&F ahead for the first time in the match. 14-21.

H&F went straight in from the kick-off and won a penalty for hands in the ruck. Ben Hatton steps up and slots the penalty for 3 points with ease from about 35m out. 14-24.

OR looked to retaliate with a well-worked backs move from the set-piece involving depth, hard running lines and good handling skills. Dragged down by some desperate tackles OR made yards and quickly moved the ball to leave H&Fs defence out-numbered out-wide. OR were back in the game with 21-24 on the scoreboard and 10 minutes to go. Could H&F hold out?

A penalty against Phil Lord (H&F 3) left the skipper thinking “Lordy Lordy Lord, I’m going to strangle you Phil” as OR were given the perfect footing to make a serious attack to win the game. H&F braced themselves for the assault and strong first-up tackles by Pete, Sam, Angus and Cillian kept OR 5-10m out for 4 phases of play. OR had tried the direct route but found no way through and with the last phase of the game were forced to chance it wide but who should be there waiting, eyeing up the touchline and adjusting his hair before the big hit, other than Nick Manning ©. The whole-team effort to keep OR out in the dying moments of the game resulted in OR being bundled into touch and the score at full time being 21-24, H&F taking the win in the pre-season dress rehearsal.

The determination to dig deep and come back from 14-0 will be something that H&F hold onto for the coming season. Phil might get strangled, but Hammersmith and Fulham have added grit to their repertoire for the season ahead.

Hammers 1s v Enfield

After two hard away games, the Hammers 1s were relishing the opportunity of playing at home and determined to turn it around and put a big W on the board. The boys had put the work in during the week at training and there was a good feeling in the camp going into Saturday.

The warm up went well and the feeling of positivity could be felt throughout, with the team atmosphere building. You could really start to feel that we were going to get the win no matter what.

The game kicked off and the Hammers went on the offensive, keeping to the structures and holding on to the ball to find their way into Enfield’s 22. A lineout maul saw the pack inching their way towards the try line, then the ball was released by Dom Woodfine at 9 and the backs were let loose. Some direct running and great hands resulted in Jack Hooper crossing the line, a brilliant start by the Hammers XV.

Enfield kicked off and again the Hammers retained possession playing some dominant running rugby. Eventually Enfield’s discipline let them down and they gave away a penalty. Si Doherty’s kick to touch gave the Hammers a lineout just outside the Enfield 22. The pack were feeling confident and after a solid take by Ultan Bruton, the forwards muscled their way towards the Enfield try line with a massive maul.  It looked like they were going to go all the way but Enfield were eventually able to slow it down. The ball went out to the backs and Si Doherty, with some dancing feet, sliced his way through the middle to score under the posts. He followed this up by kicking the conversion too.

Then it was Enfield’s turn to get into the game with some fast pace rugby, some strong running and using the width of the pitch. This put the Hammers defence under pressure resulting in a number of penalties. Enfield used this to their advantage and were able to find touch in the Hammer’s 22. Enfield repaid the favour and used their sturdy pack to maul themselves over the Hammersmith and Fulham try line.

The Hammer’s heads dropped a little and they were unable to hold onto the ball which gave Enfield more attacking opportunity.  They continued with their fast pace of attack and some hard running by the forwards. Despite some valiant tackling by the Hammers the pressure once again resulted in penalties been given away. Enfield chose to kick to touch and scored another try from a maul.

The half ended 12 -12.

Going into the 2nd half Hammersmith and Fulham knew they had to disrupt Enfield’s momentum and be the first to put points on the board. After 15 minutes of locked battle, both sides having had opportunities to attack, it was Hammersmith and Fulham that managed to come out on top. Led by the massive performance of our esteemed leader Rogan, the boys exerted pressure on the Enfield team and some broken play saw Ultan Bruton break through the Enfield defence and run in under the posts from the halfway line.

The Hammers followed this up 4 minutes later with another break through the middle, this time by Gee who turned on the pace to score from 10 metres inside the Enfield half.  However Enfield were not done yet and immediately retaliated with a third try scored from yet another rolling maul making it 26 – 17.

After 65 minutes of rugby the Hammers looked to be in control of this game which was backed up by another try scored in the corner. Cillian Waldron made a break on the far wing and put through an accurate grubber kick which Huw Bowen managed to collect and finish over the Enfield line.

At this point the Enfield discipline began to unravel and the Hammers were rewarded with a penalty, successfully slotted by Cillian Waldron. The Hammers continued dominating and ran in a 6th try, finished by Gee. Credit to Enfield they managed to rally and scored their fourth try, despite some positive defence by the Hammers, with the last play of the game.

Full time finished up 41 – 22 to Hammersmith and Fulham, a much needed and well-earned win. With the victory in hand, the squad can now focus on the next two weeks to prepare for their next game against Chiswick on the 2nd March, always a big contest. The boys will be chomping at the bit for the opportunity to take a win away against Chiswick.

MOTM – Andrew Rogan

Hammers 1s v Belsize Park

The rain had abstained for the Saturday fixture at Hurlingham Park. Belsize Park were flying high at the top of the league, and so Hammers knew that they had to play at their best to topple the league leaders.

The first twenty of the match was ferocious. Both teams not giving an inch. Hammersmith had a foray into BP’s 22 and returned with 3 points courtesy of Alex Warner’s boot.
Both teams were sticking to their game plans and played wonderful tactical kicking. Both testing their back 3’s to see whose would crack first.

It was to be Hammers, they were pinned back into the corner with a wonderful piece of kicking from BP’s Fly, this led to a knock on and 4 reset scrums. When eventually the ball was released from the 16 forwards battling it out, BP picked and went continually creating momentum for the backs to dive over to dot it onto the line. Converted.

From the restart, a poor chase and BP were back up to the Hammers 22. From a good turnover to a poor clearance kick, BP set a solid maul and drove over to score their second.
3-15 Half time

H&F believed this game was hanging in the balance. Neither side had asserted great dominance and were tussling for control.
However it was to be BP who gained the control in the second half. They came out with explosive pace and meticulous structure, which ground down the Hammers.
A further three tries were scored by BP, with the pick of the bunch being a silky dummying run from the Fly to find support on his inside to put them under the posts.

Hammers fought to the end, continually stealing line out ball and tackling hard. But a hard lesson was to be taught by BP, structure and consistent effort is the key in London 2 North West. Hammers cannot work hard in quarters; it has to be for the entire game.
3-30 FT