Hammers 3s v Chiswick – Match Report

It was a strong Hammers 3rd that took to Fortress Hurlingham against local rivals Chiswick on a frosty 6th January. Benefiting from a near full compliment of players returning after the festive break, it was a confident captain Steve Harris (15) led the boys in a warm-up characterised by the typical positivity and a forgiving demeanour from Andrew Rogan (3) directed at the highly skilled but low-functioning Billy-f*£king-Rylance (6).

After a delayed kick-off, the boys received the kick-off from a Chiswick only to find themselves quickly on the defensive.  What followed was  sustained period of pressure that lasted for approximately 15 minutes but was characterised by excellent line-speed defence and bone-crunching tackles.  The second row pairing of Thomas Broadway and Tim Lawson was especially physically, backed up by a beefier George O’hara (2), who put his xmas-added muscle to good use by not taking a back foot against the direct running of the powerful Chiswick forwards.  Nevertheless, after a fluid passage of play that saw Chiswick stretch the Hammers defense, they eventually scored out wide in a well deserved try, opening the scoring at 5-0.  Game on.

The boys quickly bounced back.  A short line out in the Hammers 30m mark was ably called, caught and passed by Tim Lawson, who passed to Dave Buchanan (9) in what would prove the start of a man-of-the-match performance at 9. Dave fed Jack Davies (10) who found the waiting hands of Mark Johnson (8).  A swift sidestep found a hole, and after big meters he offloaded to Rylance who ran it further, before finding the waiting hands of Taylor (13).  Taylor then ran it if from approximately 35 meters out, beating defenders to score in the corner.  Hammers back in the game.

Two quick tries followed.  Direct running by Josh Myers (12) up the guts from our own half created opportunities out wide that were exploited by Jack Davies to score near the posts.  Minutes later a powerful rolling maul followed, grinding its way to the line before Cillian Bane (11) – in what was the first of a brace of tries – somehow got the ball and scored under the posts.  3-tries-to-1 up.

At this point the typical Hammers ‘forget-what-got-you-there’ period began.  A series of penalties saw Chiswick fight their way back in the Hammers corner for a line out they won, before they spun it to the mid-field and poor tackling allowed them to score near the posts.  Shortly after, a uncharacteristic miss-kick for touch was caught on the Chiswick 10 meter line by their 15 who had wheels.  He then proceeded to carve up the field and take advantage of Hammers dog-leg defence.  3 tries a piece, with only the Hammers more accurate goal kicking keeping them ahead by 4.

Despite these setbacks, the boys emerged from the half confident that their skills and fitness would see them out.  What followed was a brilliant mix of running Rugby and a score board that regulatory ticked over.  Line-outs led to mauls, and powered by the legs of Simon Khalil tries were scored.  Front foot ball led to gaps out wide, exploited by Sol Lucas (14), and Cillian Waldron (13, replacement).  Whilst Chiswick did score again, to get within 5 points, the last 20 minutes saw a brace of tries take the final score out to 48-26.  Full time!

In a season where the wins have been hard to come by at times, such a commanding performance bodes well for the second half of the season. Here’s to next week!

Hammers 1s v Belsize Park – Match Report

Hammers turned up keen and fired up for the first game of the 2018 fixture list, hoping to leave behind some of the disappointing results seen in the first half of the season. Whilst results hadn’t gone our way, the Hammers 1st XV were playing some attractive rugby and looked confident in all pre match preparations. 

This continued past the first whistle as the Hammers dominated the first half. Despite letting in a try after 20 minutes, the Hammers bit back by scoring 3 tries in quick succession. 

The first came after a blistering flat line from back rower Angus simply split the Belsize defence in two with as hard line off 10. Beating one more man and being caught by another, a one handed offload to fellow back rower Magnus put the first points on the board. 

As if that wasn’t textbook enough, the second try came from another break of the Belsize midfield as fly half Jack used some fancy footwork to reach around the defender and tee up an inside offload to Lloyd Beeston who had one man to beat 15 meters out. In true Christmas spirit, presents had continued into the new year for lock Josh who offered a cracking support line to make it a 2v1. A simple and quick inside pass from Lloyd to Josh finished off yet another good offloading try. 

Whilst still carrying the momentum of the previous two tries, it was time for the backs to have a crack. After receiving the kick off, hammers ran straight back at Belsize and put the ball straight out to winger J Lo who only had 4 men to beat over 50 meters. One, two, three, four handoffs produced an easy finish for the Hammers winger to make it 19-5 to the home team. 

The second half gave little to scream and shout about for the Hammers. Belsize clearly had a wake up call and came back at the Hammers on a number of occasions, admittedly down to poor decision making and handling errors being punished. Letting in 4 tries in the second half left Hammers with too much to salvage but a try scoring bonus point. A late push from the home side wasn’t enough to secure the bonus point and the game ended with a flattering score line for Belsize to take home. 

Final Score: Hammers – 19, Belsize Park – 34

Harpenden away next in a must win game.  

Hammers 4s v Grasshoppers – Match Report

After a big loss the previous week, Hammers turned up at a cold and wet Hurlingham Park knowing that a win was much needed before heading into Christmas. With a good warm-up completed, the boys took to the field to the familiar cries of ‘Our House’ from a certain Old Ham, Matt Kelly, back from Australia for the Christmas break.

Starting strongly is something Hammers teams traditionally don’t do very well, and sure enough Hammers found themselves under pressure straight away from some strong running from a big Grasshoppers pack. This strong carrying up front meant Hammers were under pressure in their own half, and with any kicks being returned at pace by a quick Grasshoppers back three it was not long before they opened the scoring in the corner. One try quickly became two and Hammers found themselves 10-0 after the first 15 minutes.

A response was needed, and that was exactly what we got with the Hammers forwards starting to come into their own. Strong carrying from Tony Rees, James Watson and front row duo of JP and Si Khalil won Hammers a penalty and the ball was duly dispatched to the corner. Tom Broadway proceeded to win the line-out, as he did brilliantly all day, and from there the maul was set. From on the 22, the Hammers forwards proceeded to roll all the way over the line with Matt Kelly gleefully touching down at the back for a score that the forwards will remember for a long long time!

Following the restart, Hammers won another penalty in midfield, and the ball was once again fired towards the corner. The maul wasn’t quite so efficient this time, but Hammers were camped on the Grasshoppers 5 metre line. Si Khalil went close only to be held up, but when the ref blew for another penalty, Watson tapped quickly and piled over bringing the scores level.

Halftime: 10-10

Following halftime, Hammers again came out of the blocks slowly, allowing Grasshoppers to register the first points of the second half with another try bringing the scores to 15-10.

Hammers then managed to get some good field position and were deep into the Grasshoppers 22. From a strong scrum, a loose ball was gathered by Matt Baddeley who crashed over only to be held up. However, on the back of another dominant scrum from the Hammers pack, hooker Rees collected the ball and went over under the posts, this time converted by Chris Jager and Hammers had gone into a 17-15 lead.

From then, Hammers felt they had the momentum and really had to make it count. A big defensive shift led to Grasshoppers getting pegged back and then finding themselves in their own 22 looked to run it out. Joey Grahame read what was happening brilliantly giving himself the simplest of passes to pick off and race away for the simplest of tries, celebrating like he’d just scored the winner in the World Cup Final!

Grasshoppers looked deflated by conceding such a try, and then straight from the restart Watson broke numerous tackles and somehow sprinted from his own 22 only to be tackled just short of the Grasshoppers line! It was a brilliant run, and he managed to pop the ball up to Jager to touch down and give Hammers a 31-15 lead, but plenty more stick was to come Watsons way post match for not managing to make it himself!

Bonus point secured for Hammers, but the game was by no means secure just yet. Grasshoppers bounced back well from the setback of conceding three tries and enjoying some rare second half time in the Hammers 22, some strong pick and go’s from their forward pack ensured they got over the whitewash again leaving an 11 point deficit with 10 minutes to play. 31-20.

Hammers didn’t let this affect them and some strong phase play in midfield led them into the Grasshoppers 22. While trying to spread the ball wide quickly, there was a late hit on Baddeley which meant a penalty right in front of the posts. Jager duly kicked the three points on offer and that was to be that, with Hammers running out 34-20 winners, and heading into Christmas with a very important bonus point win.

Man of the match was James Watson for his try, strong carrying, and brilliant run to set up Jagers try, while tin man was Si Khalil for being held up twice!

Hammers 4s v Rosslyn Park – Match Report

An early kick off meant that the troops rallied at 10am at Rosslyn Park’s 4G ground on a particularly arctic Saturday morning, which only worsened the agony for those with post—Office Christmas party sore heads and nagging beer fears. With the addition of a seemingly endless wait outside the locked changing rooms, spirits were already downed by the onset of hypothermia .. underhand tactics by our hosts? The jury is out… 

After a much-needed warm-up the boys were suitably fired up, with Captain for the day Tom Parkinson winning the toss and opting to kick. With the ball lofted deep into enemy territory by Fly Half Matt Baddeley, battle was commenced. Unfortunately it didn’t take long for Rosslyn Park to find their stride, with their handy centre partnership capitalising on dusty heads in the Hammers’ line; they broke through, pushed wide and cut inside to score their first try under the sticks. With an easy start, the on-form Rosslyn Park kicker was able to make it an early 7 point lead. 

Unfortunately this became a familiar tale for the Hammers in the first half. Rosslyn Park, were able to utilise a particularly heavy pack laden with strong runners in the backline to execute a well-drilled game plan with impressive accuracy and put several successive converted tries past the visitors. Even designated waterboy for the day, Hamish Barker, was out of breath. Just as heads were beginning to go down, the Hammers found themselves on the halfway line with ball in hand. After a few phases of effective carries from the forwards, a backs ball was called and the ball was slung out left by Will Desprez at 9. Moving down the line, the pill found itself in the hands of Chris Jager at 12 running a cutting hard line, which sliced through the seemingly impenetrable Rosslyn Park defences. The fullback was no match for Chris’s step, and like a rampant stag he skilfully danced his way over the line in the corner. With the kick narrowly missed the Hammers were on the board with 5 points in hand. 

The Hammers’ defences seemed to harden at this point, and the rate at which Rosslyn Park were able break through for the rest of the half was scaled back. Unfortunately, in a tragic case of friendly fire, the Hammers had to clap off front row stalwart Mike Spurgeon after a bad head collision, and with no competent prop replacements, scrums went uncontested; we became 14.  

With a hefty deficit at half time, heads were lifted by rousing speeches. The Rosslyn Park kicker had very much found his form at this point and the restart was gathered by the hosts. This gave Rosslyn Park strong momentum in the Hammers’ half and it wasn’t long before they were over the line again. Overall, the second half was more of a battle of attrition than the first, with the Hammers’ defences improving markedly as fitness came into play. A few bone crunching hits on the host’s supposedly “chippy” 9 by 12 Chris Jager stoked the competitive fire back into the Hammers and in the dying minutes the boys were able to crash the ball all the way up to host’s 5 metre line, with Hooker Tommy Hayes flying in on the blind side to plant the ball over the line. With the kick converted in the last play of the game, Hammers were able to come away with 12 points. 

Unfortunately the well-oiled Rosslyn Park machine was able put up too big a tally early on, and under a heavy deficit the Hammers were under the cosh from the start. It was, however a valiant effort all round and the boys walked the tunnel with heads held high. A bad day at the office, but a hard-fought battle nonetheless.

Man of the Match – Chris Jager for an aesthetic try and a solid defensive performance despite a 5:30am finish only hours before the fixture 

Tin Man – Hamish Barker; unfairly awarded for a diligent effort running on the water and keeping the boys hydrated. Didn’t play due to severity of hangover (Category 5) and we all just wanted to see him down a pint…

Hammers 2s v London Cornish – Match Report

On Saturday, the 2nd XV made the short trip across the river to our ‘second home’, Barn Elms to play local rivals London Cornish.

The lads didn’t leave the sheds until the very last minute to ‘warm-up’, partly due to it being freezing cold and partly due to not having a ball or match shirts!

Once the game kicked off, Cornish had the majority of possession, but the first 20 minutes of the game were a stale mate with the Hammers defense stepping up to stop the Cornish attack (largely down to an incentive from Johnson offering anyone who made the biggest hit a beer!). However, after some relentless pressure Cornish found a gap in the defensive line and went over.

After the kick off, the story continued with Cornish making ground in the Hammers half until a great read of the play by Al Horner, who intercepted and ran the length of the field until being dragged down a few meters short. With some quick ball, Hammers manged to get the ball to Leon Joseph to score the first of his brace of the afternoon. This gave Hammers some momentum and soon found themselves in the Cornish half again and winning the penalty, leaving John McManus the easy job of slotting the three points.

HT – Hammers 10 – Cornish 7

Hammers carried the momentum through half time and came out on the attack. After stretching the Cornish defense across the pitch, some slick hands from the backs unleashed Leon Joseph to speed round their right wing and score after a great bit of attacking phase play by Hammers.

With Hammers now accumulating points, Cornish were on the back foot and with some clever kicking, Cornish were being force to play from deep. So much so, after a good nudge to the corner the Cornish full back had a good Hammers line chase on him and he was force to kick. This didn’t go quite to plan as it landed perfectly into a well placed James Cramp (who was catching his breath) on the opposite wing. He marched the ball up as far as he could go until seeing the support line from Lawson who carried himself before, selflessly, making sure the covering deference didn’t get a chance to stop the try and offloaded to the screaming Johnson outside him who add another try to the Hammers tally.

After the kick off, Cornish then stepped up and applied pressure to the Hammers line that eventually broke down once again after some sustained pressure.

This didn’t stop Hammers however as they continued with some clever kicking that put Cornish’s left wing under some pressure who tried to showboat by keep the ball alive and slapping it back into play. Little did he realise that Al Horner was steaming up the wing and manged to gather the loose ball and score.

FT Hammers 27 – Cornish 12

Overall, an excellent team performance especially with the challenges faced before kick off. The defensive desire was outstanding and the attack was clinical with the opportunities received in the second half. Notable performances on the day included Tim Murray who had a massive tackling and carrying day, also fellow Ozzy Taylor Williams defended strongly and kicked well releasing pressure at crucial points in the game. Wingers Horner and Joseph were busy all afternoon and their tries were well deserved. Debut players George Eddell, Lewis Stenson and Ed Brown all slotted in seamlessly but the main mention most go to the man of the match Simon Khalil who was dominant in the frontrow at scrum time and his wrecking ball carries got the team on the front foot time and time again.

One final mention most go to JP who had to deal with our logistical nightmare head on and still performed well on the field.

1. JP
2. Tim Williams
3. Simon Kalil
4. James Cramp
5. Tom Broadway
6. Tim Lawson
7. Tim Murray
8. Mark Johnson
9. Gary Leith (c)
10. John McManus
11. Leon Jospeh
12. George Eddell
13. Taylor Williams
14. Al Horner
15. Lewis Stenson

16. Gael Eyenga
17. Ed Brown

Hammers 3s v Hampstead – Match Report

A bitterly cold but beautifully sunny winter’s day was the setting for the 40th Anniversary of Hammersmith & Fulham Rugby club which in return promised to serve up two epic home performances from the 1s and 3s.
First up was the 3s who faced Hampstead 2nd XV, currently 2 places above in the league. With Hammers skirting near the bottom few places, a win was crucial to relieve some pressure and start building momentum towards the second half of the season. With a 1pm scheduled start the excitement had to be momentarily contained while the two sides waited on the referee to arrive.

Kick off was taken and Hampstead got off to a perfect start with two early tries, going 10-0 up through some strong attacking and expansive rugby. This would be the theme throughout the match with the team in possession making significant yards each time. Next to strike were Hammers through a pick and go from Magnus Barber off the back of a ruck followed by a series of almighty fends before crossing the try line. Steve Harris converted to keep Hammers within touching distance

Hampstead returned the favour to go 15-7 up before Hammersmith pressure from a line out penalty and good structured play fed one of many strong runs from Ultan to bring Hammers back within 1 point.
Further points from Hampstead threatened to give them a 6-point lead going into half-time before captain Steve Harris once again produced magic from his boot to kick a 35 metre drop goal into the wind which resulted in Hammers trailing by 20-17 in time for the oranges.

A controversial try by Hampstead early in the second half was followed by good structured play once again from Hammers, leading to a line break and the resulting try from Cillian Waldron.

With 20 minutes to go Hampstead now had a 13-point lead and much resolve and determination was going to be needed from the Hammers side in the last quarter. They didn’t disappoint and a snipe from the number 10 Chris Eldridge lead him over the line and once again was duly converted by Steve to make it one score.
A controlled and patient display from the forwards in the closing minutes with a series of pick and goes broke down a tired Hampstead defence and once the ball was picked up by front row Justin Perry there was no stopping him over the line.

One point in it and it fell to Captain Steve Harris to kick a high pressure and less than straightforward conversion for the win. With no doubt in his mind Steve slotted the kick between the posts concluding a faultless kicking game from the skipper at 15 and a strongly deserved man of the match.
Tin man went to Tom Broadway for touching the ball down on his try line with the Referee awarding a try to the opposition.

Final Score: Hammersmith & Fulham 38 – Hampstead 37

Tries: Magnus, Ultan, Waldron, Eldridge, JP
Conversion: Harris x5
Drop Goal: Harris

Hammers 4s v Old Streetonians – Match Report

Hammersmith and Fulham 4th XV v Old Streetonians 2nd XV
Saturday 11 November 2018

A grey and wet Hurlingham Park greeted the Hammers 4th XV as they arrived ready for a crucial game against Old Streetonians, who were sitting one place above in the league table.

With the warm up done and a well observed minute silence for Remembrance Day completed, Matt Baddeley got the game under way with Hammers looking to apply some early pressure in the Old Streets half. Some very strong carrying up front was creating space around the field and Hammers were going through the phases well to continue moving forwards and into the Old Streets 22. When Matt Perry then spotted some space in behind the Old Streets defence, a well weighted box kick down the line allowed Kris Connor to race down the wing, gather and touch down giving Hammers the score their start had deserved. The conversion was missed, although touching down under the posts under no pressure would have been appreciated!

The Hammers forwards were enjoying a great start and this translated into the scrum were they were clearly the dominant pack. The front row of Jan Vermuton, Abe Knight and Mike Spurgeon nearly got what they deserved by pushing Old Street over but a knock-on frustratingly saw the opportunity disappear.

A turnover then led to a long kick down field, and Hammers, thinking the ball had bounced out, stopped playing. However the referee had not blown his whistle (and Hammers sub Chris Dale refused to flag!) and so the Old Streets winger raced up the wing, gathered and scored to give Old Streets a try completely against the run of play. A lesson in playing to the whistle all round!

This brought Old Street back into the game, and with some good direction from their scrum half it was their turn to play the rugby in the Hammers half. Some strong defence prevented them from scoring initially, but with the pressure mounting and getting out of their half proving tough for Hammers, the score eventually came which would see Old Street go into half time 12-5 to the good.

Some strong words from Will Parker and ‘Matt Kelly, mark 2’, Adam Nixon, ensured Hammers came out fired up for the second half, and Tim Le Breton immediately scythed through the defence to bring play into the Old Street half. Having eventually been turned over and a  clearing kick taking play to just outside the 22, Hammers had a lineout and the chance to inflict some early damage to the scoreboard. What followed can only be described as ‘forwards porn’.  A driving maul from outside the 22 all the way over the line, with skipper Parker gleefully touching down at the back! Le Breton successfully converted and Hammers were back to 12-12.

Hammers once again started going through the phases well and Jack Petchey and Will Symington were starting to come to the fore with some strong midfield carries. This created some space out wide and with some intricate hands, Kris Connor was over in the corner for his second try of the game.

With the momentum firmly in their favour, Hammers were determined to make it count and yet more strong work up front, coupled with some excellent hands saw Ruaridh Young, who had been carrying well all game, run a great support line to go over and put Hammers into a 22-14 lead.

A brilliant, long defensive set from Hammers in the middle of the pitch led to another turnover, and from the resulting scrum the ball was spread wide through the hands of Le Breton and Baddeley to Victor Alabrune, who had to gather well! Alabrune skinned a few men down the outside before cutting inside and feeding Young who crashed over for his second try.

That finished things off and saw Hammers get a well deserved victory, as well as the try bonus point.

Final score – 27-14.

Man of the match – Ruaridh Young. 2 tries and brilliant support running.
Tin Man – Chris Dale. For his honesty in not flagging the ball as out to allow the Old Streets first try! An honorable mention to JP for forgetting that a number 8 can pick up and touch down when over the try line!

Hammers 4s v HAC – Match Report

HAC II 38 – 14 Hammers 4s

Hammers 4s travelled to the heart of the City of London to play HAC at the fabled Finsbury Barracks Ground – one of, if not the most valuable pieces of land used for playing rugby in the world. The setting in amongst the skyscrapers and trappings of military heritage seemed to have a positive effect on the squad who gathered for an energetic warm up and looked keen and set to take the field.

Come kick off, the Hammers suffered an immediate setback when Alex ‘The Greek’ the side’s most renowned ball carrier took the ball up in midfield but in the course of taking contact and recycling the ball sustained an injury from a stray elbow evidently from a fellow prop. The result was a broken nose that prevented any further participation in the game.

Despite losing one of the front re contingent, the scrum was providing a solid platform in the early stages with Chris Hall propping at loose head – a far cry from his usual role, exploiting the open spaces out wide.

Despite some success in the set piece and some encouraging phase play, HAC were able to make inroads through their big ball carriers in midfield and in the tight exchanges, particularly effective on the inside ball. Hammers defence freaked and was eventually breached out wide .  A second lapse in defence then compounded some unforced handing errors and enabled the hosts to cross again just before half time.

By this time Hammers we’re down to 14 men after a scrum failed to set safely and stand-in prop Chris Hall fell awkwardly, suffering a nasty shoulder injury, the full extent of which only became apparent later. Despite having made provision for a front row injury the ‘letter of the law’ was applied, meaning that the game reverted to uncontested scrums with Hammers forced to play the remainder of the game a man down. It was an unfortunate but significant blow to the side, particularly given that Hammers at worst had parity in the scrums and took no advantage from going uncontested.

Despite some notable carriers from lock Benji Reid, centre Ollie Brothwood and skipper Tilbrook, the 4s went in 12-0 down at the turnaround. Despite the injuries and being a man light, there was a positive feeling amongst the squad who had generally held their own without seemingly getting out of second gear. However, it seemed the hosts also had fears they hadn’t used and they showed some fine handling skills in the early exchanges of the second half, exploiting space out wide and scoring a third try.

Hammers then hit back with some good work of their own, putting together a number of phases before good hands in the back line put centre Oli Scholes in  space and through for a run to the line. With both sides now playing with some freedom, the game opened up and the home side ultimately took advantage, firstly making the most of an interception and again showing the competence in the back line before crossing on the right wing.

With the result no longer in doubt it would have been easy for heads to drop, but it was encouraging to see the Hammers take up the challenge of chasing bonus points. A fine try followed using the same formula as before with patient forward play followed by good hands in the backs. This time Chris Jager went through the gap created in the HAC defence to score a fine consolation. It was well deserved but ultimately not enough, as the hosts ruthlessly exploited the ambition shown by the Hammers in chasing further scores. The game finished with another interception by an HAC back, to put some deserved gloss on the score line.

Overall, a disappointing result and a below-par performance from the 4s who had gone into the game full of confidence and on the back of an encouraging run of recent form.  Nonetheless, and not for the first time, the effort and commitment of the group, particularly when down to 14 men provides plenty of encouragement particularly with some influential figures (including regular Captain Will Parker), set for a welcome return next week.