Hammers 1XV Victorious After Extended Break

As the old saying goes, good things come to those who wait. Which is true of both the game against Old Haberdashers and this match report.

After over a month without rugby, Hammers 1XV returned after the Christmas break with a hotly anticipated match against Old Haberdashers. Though the conditions were dire, the excitement around Hurlingham Park was palpable as the crowd began to grow.

With the wind gathering and rain beginning to fall, Hammers kicked off the first half. With a bit of aerial tennis to start the game, both teams tried to gain a foothold in the game. Eventually it was Old Habs who won a penalty and hoofed it deep into the Hammers half, however nothing was to come of it.

The next real action came after a sliced clearance kick from Old Habs, with Hammers applying some good pressure before a great kick into the Old Habs 22 resulted in a 5-metre lineout. Hammers turned the lineout over, however knocked it on. Old Habs cleared well from the resulting scrum penalty. Poor discipline then cost Hammers again, giving away a penalty at the breakdown which Old Habs kicked well into the Hammer half. After some good pressure and a few scrum penalties, Old Habs took the lead with a kick at goal. 0-3 Old Habs.

Hammers then applied pressure, with some sustained time in the Old Habs half. Though they did defend well, Old Habs could consider themselves very fortunate to not be down to 14 men with their centre giving away two very blatant deliberate knock-ons in their own 22. With festive spirit still running high, the referee decided to leave the offences unpunished.

Both teams ground out the first half, evidently struggling with some post-Christmas lethargy, as nothing else really happened. Half time and the score was still 0-3 Old Habs.

It was much of the same for start of the second half until the galloping Alex Spicer made a fantastic break through the middle of the Old Habs defence. After being brought down just short of the try line, Hammers recycled the ball quickly and span it out wide before Bryce Morgan finished well in the corner. Calls of “That’s more like it Hammersmith” and “About bloody time” could be heard from the touchline, and right they were. Conversion missed, 5-3 Hammers.

 It was Old Habs who struck next. After building some good phases in the Hammers half, they caught the defence sleeping on the blindside. It was the most of routine finishes, however it left a difficult kick out wide which could not be converted. 5-8 Old Habs.

 At this point Hammers realised they were in a game and remembered how to play rugby. A missed kick to touch by Old Habs allowed Hammers to quickly counter. 3 slick passes later and Ed Haynes was in under the posts. Conversion easily slotted, 12-8 Hammers.

 After some back and forth between the two teams, Hammers won a well worked line out and carried hard for two phases before cutting back against the flow of play. The Old Habs defence parted like the Red Sea and Joe Carolan jogged in under the posts. Another simple conversion followed, 19-8 Hammers.

 Next, it was time for Old Habs’ discipline to cause them some problems. With the ball bouncing around in the corner and no one committed to diving on it, it bobbled over the Old Habs try line. Tim Russell looked sure to dive on it and score were in not for an incredibly cynical pull from Old Habs. The ref was not impressed and awarded a penalty try. 26-8 Hammers.

 In true Hammers fashion, a strong finish ensued. Joe Carolan made a great break before being brought down at the Old Habs 5 metre line.  After a couple of offloads, the ball ended up on the floor. Miraculously, it appeared right at Carolan’s feet as he stood up and he flopped over the line for the easiest finish of the season. Conversion spooned wide, 31-8 Hammers.

 After a good take from the subsequent kick off, some clever play from Dugdale at the base of the ruck led to a great break. He squared up the last Old Habs defender and unselfishly gave the ball to Tim Russell who dotted down for Hammers final try of the game. Conversion made, 38-8 Hammers.

 There was time for one final kick off, however there were no more points to be scored. Like many games of late, Hammers started slow but ended well. Old Habs made a great game of it, with a much grittier performance than the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

Final Score: Hammersmith & Fulham 38 – 8 Old Haberdashers

Special Mention to Ricky Drewitt who played his final game for Hammers before moving home to Southampton. Whilst we will not be retiring his squad number or putting a statue in the car park, he will be missed at the club.