https://www.fulhamrugby.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/DSC_1028.jpg 4000 6000 mattbaddeley https://www.fulhamrugby.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/logo-cut-out-268x300-268x300.png mattbaddeley2018-10-02 18:50:252018-10-02 18:50:25Hammers 1s v Hemel Hempstead
A cold and blustery day at Hurlingham Park saw Hammers 1st XV play Hemel Hemstead in their first home game of the season. This was an eagerly anticipated fixture as encounters between these two sides are typically high scoring. Sadly, the conditions did not lend themselves to free-flowing rugby with over 20 scrums and 20 lineouts featuring throughout the game but that did not make the game any less entertaining.
Much of the pre-game build up was focused on the size of the Hemel pack, prompting coach Liam to remind the team that organisation, connection, line speed beating size every day of the week. This rang true as Hammers new loosehead prop and converted backrower – Rob Johnstone – laid down an early marker with his first hit of the game knocking back the Hemel number eight. Fellow newbie, prop and frustrated back – Phil Lord – offered words of encouragement as only a kiwi can – “shot aye cuz”.
Hammers new 13 – Dave Panter – was marshalling the backs well in defence and it was his in attack that lead to Hammers first try of the game. “Irish Dave”, put in a well weighted kick to the Hemel five metre line, at the resulting line the ball was spilled and Hammers number eight “Helium Tim”, carried two Hemel players over the line with him for the first try of the game. Without any regular goal kickers in the team our veteran fly half – Si Doherty – dusted off his sand wedge… and then his boots but sadly could not covert the try. After a period of sustained pressure in the Hammers 22, Hemel were awarded a penalty which they duly slotted, 5-3 to Hammers.
It takes something special to make it to the top and be a non-goal kicking fly-half – think Carlos Spencer, Stephen Larkham… and Si Doherty, and it was the former Old Silhillians man that defied all odds when he stepped forward and slotted a penalty on the 15th minute, putting Hammers two scores ahead. Hammers struggled to get their threatening outside backs into the game, this was not helped by Level 7’s answer to Taqele Naiyaravoro – Alex Gee – overrunning a strike play and knocking the ball on. Blindside flanker – Ultan Bruton – began to assert himself on the game, making a number of dominant carries and showing great work rate in defence in what was a slog of the halfway line between the two packs.
With 10 minutes to go before the halftime whistle, Hemel Hemstead made the most of their dominant lineout and heavier pack as they began to get up a head of steam in a driving maul. That was until their looshead prop broke away, running into frustrated flanker come hooker – James Darrall – who managed to dislodge the ball in the tackle. Hammers worked the ball to the ever-elusive James “JLo” Lo who in a trademark run managed to wriggle his way out of several tackle attempts before darting down the left wing and dotting down in the corner. Doherty missed the conversion, 13-3 to Hammers.
The following kick off saw Hammers gather the ball and after several phases work their way back into the Hemel 22. Sarries Salesman and Shaun Perry doppelganger – Ed Clark – identified space on the left-hand side, passing it the ball to Darrall who in an effort to emulate Danny “Golden Wrists” Cipriani threw a miss two to JLo on the left wing. The ball flew like a one-winged pigeon to the winger who put a deft chip in before being dragged down without the ball resulting in a penalty try to Hammers. 20-3 to Hammers.
Just after halftime, Hammers looked to continue where they left off with Darrall cutting through the Hemel defence unopposed. Darrall’s housemate and joint man of the match, Ultan, looked to link up with the hooker calling for a grubber kick through but instead received an offload to the face – resulting in a bloody nose. Clarky kicked a box kick out on the full and Rogan conceded a few penalties before on the 50th minute Hemel scored from a driving maul.
On the 65th minute, more indiscipline from the Hammers bench saw replacement scrumhalf and Belfast’s version of American Psycho – Dave Buchanan – sinbinned for a deliberate knock-on and Hemel were awarded a penalty try. With one minute to go and the game potentially going either way, Si Doherty stepped forward once more and slotted a penalty bringing the score to 23-15 with one minute to go.
Hammers fullback Taylor “Tay Tay” Williams fielded the following kick off and instead of kicking the ball out to end the game, he tried his best to give Hemel a losing bonus point. The Owen Wilson lookalike opted to run the ball but was thankfully knocked into touch. Aside from that and kicking the ball out on the full, Williams had a solid game on his return to the 1st XV making several last-ditch tackles and organising the defence from the back. That is despite being out until the early hours of the morning preparing himself for the club’s annual pub golf that followed the game. All in all it was a gutsy performance from the boys in red, white and blue who thoroughly deserved their first league victory of the season.