Following a disappointing but winning performance the week before against a resilient Farnham, it was a determined Hammers 1st XV that travelled to Surrey for this, their first ever match against Guildford RFC.
From the start, things were different. The boys started strongly, defending the first 5 mins or so, before winning some good penalty turnovers and taking the game to Guildford and opening the account via a great first try through Pete Bicknell, care of a couple of good Jacks followed by a Whisky (Rangy) and he was in.
Score: 5 vs 0.
Typically, Hammers switched off from the restart, with Guildford employing a split Kick Off. The ball was caught by Captain Joe Carolan on the backs’ side, before a silly penalty was given coming in from the side. Guildford kicked to the corner and then 5-man lineout drive over the line. Score 5-5.
This lapse in concentration in the first half was what we needed to switch back on, securing the ball from the kick off back and scoring almost straight away, with the forwards retaining possession well which unleashed the back line. A couple of dents from Bicknell and Pete M was able to go himself and make it to the line. Score: 12 vs 5. Hammers extended the lead through a penalty 15 vs 5, before score our third try of the half. Bicknell crash ball, with an offload inside to Joe Carolan under the posts score 22 vs 5.
Unfortunately, this was Bicknell’s last partaking in the game as he went off with a dead leg. Guildford, scored in the final play of the half with the most dubious decision of the year, they kicked the ball through, Mitch put the ball down over the line, ref said that the ball was not controlled, despite admitting there was downward pressure. Score half time: 22 vs 10.
Hammers started the second half on the back foot, catching the restart but giving a penalty away almost straight after. Guildford nudged it into the corner where they remained on our line for the next 5 minutes, however, the defence stayed firm holding them out. When Hammers finally got in their half, they scored from what was undoubtedly our best try of the season and some New Zealand-esque style of rugby. Two quick Jacks and a magic, straighten through the defence, with Joe Crawley on hand to score in the corner. Score: 27 vs 10.
For the next 15 mins we were in our own half unable to escape and unfortunately the defence didn’t hold out as it had done previously. There were some great shots going in with bodies on the line, however Guildford were able to score eventually through 2 pick and go’s in very quick succession. Score 27 vs 22. At this point, concerns of another Medway were in the players’ minds, however, like most of the day our counter attack and freestyle of play put us further ahead. A loose kick from them to Pete Morris, who beat two and offloaded, quick hands from Ricky to Joe, to step inside and offload to Ross who has officially ended his Doughnut. Conversion successful. Score: 34 vs 22.
For the remainder of the game, we were camped on our line. Pete Morris, received a yellow, but bodies were being put on the line including Sean who took a big old blow to the head. Defence remained strong with a massive effort until the ref finally blew his whistle. Final Score: 34 vs 10, and our first away bonus point of the year!