Farnham remind Hammers 1st XV the wins don’t come easy

The Hammers came into Saturday in buoyant mood, having previously dispatched the ‘Wild Geese’ convincingly in their last outing and bolstered by the return of London’s premier Doctor, Steve John, and Mykonos’s favourite beanpole, Alex Hart. In some further changes, club veteran Rogan was asked to carry the water, offering a first start to a man half his age, Ricky Drewitt, at loosehead, whilst Joe Crawley was set to make his debut off the bench after some strong performances for the 2s. The challenge this week lay in the form of Farnham, a side who were marooned near the foot of the table. Nevertheless, closer inspection of results unveiled important nuance – their defeats have all been by tight margins and they pushed table-toppers Welsh close. The warm-up was sharp, and Coach ‘Jacko’ may even have displayed a minor smile across his pursed lips, which should have been a warning sign.

The Hammers got off to a delightful start. A clean kick-off return (not a common feature thus far this season), preceded a fluent period of possession. Playing our attacking shape, the forwards made some dynamic carries, before Joel Caravan played a flat miss pass out to ‘Le Snack’ Russell who kindly returned the egg to the Caravan via the delicate, sun-kissed hands of Hart.

15 minutes later, and it was 14-0 to the Hammers. The combination of Caravan and Russell striking again, with the former making an electric line break before feeding the gas to finish. The Hammers were in control, and with Hart having been yanked on his return midway through the half, they could have had more. Some intense harrying work by the back row titans, John and McMahon, made Farnham cough up possession and our nippy 9, Rossco looked set to score his first ever Hammers try. Sadly, raw pace is not something our Tartan warrior is known for, and a panicked offload found turf rather than the expectant stick-mitts.

As the second half arrived, the portents were rather less promising. Early on, Joel Caravan, drawing inspiration from the burgeoning centre partnership of Lavery and Bicknell, won a brave turnover in the middle of the park, which he soon ruined by booting the ball sideways and straight out. In times gone by, Bicknell would have engaged death stare mode and lessons would be learnt. Sadly, with his fellow Kray twin, Harry Scarr, missing with a sore hand, the aura has faded and he would now struggle to scare a kitten.

Sure enough, Farnham came back into the game, putting the Hammers under pressure. They controlled both possession and territory convincingly during the second half but strong defence kept them at bay barring a single penalty which the Farnham 10 knocked over for some stats-padding. With Farnham knocking at the door, the resolve of the boys was tested further due to a number of injuries. Poulton (back), Bennett (wrist) and John (head) all trudged onto the sidelines with the game in the balance.

However, against the run of play, the Hammers struck to put the game to bed. A penalty provided the opportunity for some territory, however, not for the first time, Lavery missed touch. Fortunately the ball was kicked back to the Caravan himself who manufactured a 3 on 2. Russell showed everyone he has power to go with his raw pace and burst through a double tackle, offloading to Morris who dummied and made it to the line.

The last throes of the game saw a return to the pattern of the second half, with Farnham asking difficult questions in the Hammers 22. Questions which were mostly answered, until they went over with the last play in the game to deliver a final scoreline of 19-10. We wish Farnham well for the rest of the season and look forward to our away trip to Guildford.

MoM: Tim ‘Le Snack’ Russell.

Tin Man: A very unscary Peter Bicknell for impacting the operational capacity of South West London’s emergency NHS services by knocking out Dr Steve John.