07/04/18 – Hammersmith & Fulham 2ndXV vs London Scottish
The final league game of the season and everyone is prepared for an exciting game. The tourists are back from Barcelona and they have brought the sun back with them, a sunny 18 degree day with a slight wind and fast track, the scene was set for good day away.
With the warm up complete and the final team runs rehearsed the team was ready. With bagpipes playing in the background, Gary Leith lead the Hammers out onto the pitch.
Scottish kicked to start the match and Hammers returned with a strong run, some disciplined forward patterns earned a penalty and they edged further down the pitch. A clean take in the line out and a well directed maul put the Hammersmith on the front foot. Charging runs from Rob Fox and Cillian Waldron through the centres pushed the play further into the attacking 22. The loose forwards of Scottish were stalking every ruck but unfortunately gave up a penalty 5 out from the line. Lining up for the set play anticipation was high, Billy Rylance picks the ball and drives a pack over the try line, appealing the grounding to the referee, when there are clearly 2 bodies under the ball.
Another scrum 5 out an this time the ball is passed wider to James Watson who breaks for the line and with and outstretch arm scores a try right next to the posts. With the conversion confirmed the Hammers make it 7-0, as they head back to the centre.
The restart from Scottish is wayward and travels straight out of play, and Hammers capitalise from the scrum with a solid link up between the centres, back into positive territory. Again the organised forward patterns have the Hammers moving forward, Gary Leith sees an opportunity and makes a sniping run, a couple of the Scottish players see this and decide Gary would be better without a head. Keeping his head, just, Gary marches the play down the field with a kick to set up for an attacking line out. Another controlled maul sets the play which results in Billy Rylance driving through over the try line making no mistake and clearly grounding the ball this time. The unfaltering boot of Eldredge makes it a clean 14 points.
The kick is clean but Hammersmith fumble the catch, the ball is regathered and the attack is on down the short side, Sol makes a short but skillful run before kicking the ball downfield into touch clearing the defensive territory. Scottish set a full line for the throw but with a sneaky trick play hit the jumper at 2 who feeds it back to the hooker, he is away down the side line and bursts through two red shirts, he is away until he is forcibly stopped by Watson’s head. Time is off as both players took a big hit. Play resumes and Hammers get a good drive on the scrum where they have been dominant all day, the ball comes cleanly and good meters are gained through the open field. Unfortunately too many metres as the back runner is isolated and the quick to counter ruck Scottish earn the penalty. Pushed back to the half line for the line the Hammers have the support of their bench right behind the hooker. James Roche and Bob Davies have been all over the defensive line out and this one is no different, stealing it out of the air. Hammersmith send it wide and charge down the field. Sol is cut down before he can score in the corner, but support arrives to secure the ball. A couple of mid field crashes by the forwards draw the defence in and Hammersmith look to send it wide, not the cleanest of set ups, but good recovery in the hands of Waldron and Lewis Stenson put Ralston in space to score in the top corner. The sometimes faltering boot of Eldredge can’t add to the score and it stands at 19-0.
Half Time Hammersmith 19 – London Scottish 0
Hammers restart the second term with a solid kick, which goes to one of London Scottish’s solid runners who charges right into the pack requiring multiple bodies to bring him down. Some half time changes bought further firepower to the Scottish centres who tool the next hit up again making good gains for the athletic Scottish team. On the front foot Scottish looked to spin it wide but Josh Petit had other ideas and as the ball travelled through the air an out stretched Petit intercepted, gathered and continued on his way through open space to dot down 5 points of his own. The increasingly faltering boot doesn’t help and the score is at 24-0.
A good take by Scottish sees them bring play back into the Hammers half. Full of energy and with plenty of players keen to run the ball Scottish pick up the pace of the play bringing into the game the pace of their wingers. Solid covering defence by the back 3 make sure neither get through and do a good job of putting them into touch. Time is off as Petit has his jackling hand taped back together which gives the team a chance to catch their breathe. Another line out stolen by the Bob-Roache towers and the play crashes into mid-field, only to be turned over again by some isolated running. The Scottish scrum holds together and the ball is out cleanly but confusion in the backs causes it to go to ground, the referee deems it to be a free ball which is taken advantage of by Hammersmith. The ball goes wide right and into the hands of Ultan, returning for his first game since injury. You wouldn’t know though as he builds speed and cuts a swathe through 3 defenders, still the fullback to beat he casually draws the man and passes to where, if he were 10 years younger and hadn’t been on tour the previous week, Andrew Rogan would have been. Instead Rogan is lagging a metre or so off the pace and watches the ball sail over the touch-line, missing the opportunity of a certain try and in this act earning himself tin man.
Play is resumed and through strong defence Hammers win the ball back, Probably Petit in there somewhere. A quick tap of the ball had Scottish on the back foot with and overlap, clean hands saw Lewis outrun a diving fullback to place the ball down and keep the scoreboard ticking over. Conversion unsuccessful. 29 – 0.
Hammersmith receive the kick and push their way down field through solid work from the forward pods. Some undisciplined play is creeping into the Hammersmith game as everyone is feeling confident, pinned for not releasing Scottish receive a penalty, not wasting any time, they tap and catch the Hammers on their heels a couple of quick passes and some fancy footwork sees the Hammers defence scrambling, but it is too late, the line is broken and they can only chase as the Scottish speed beat them under the posts for 5 points of their own. A neat conversion makes it 29-7 with not long to play.
Hammersmith use the opportunity to bring on fresh legs switching up their halves combination to their younger scrum half Dave Buchanan and John McManus to flyhalf. After a wake up call of the line being broken, the focus is back onto the team structure. Strong carries from Tim through the mid-field bring the momentum back the Hammers way and controlled play earns a penalty on the half way line which McMannus advanced to 10 out with an outstanding kick. The line out is taken and the drive is on falling just short of the line, Scottish defence is strong and pushes back against the forward hit ups several phases result in no advantage gained until Rylance picks a mismatch, gets some speed and punches the line breaking through for his second. McManus takes over kicking duties and is closer but cannot add points this time. 34 -7
With only minutes to play London Scottish are laying it all on the line some loose passing and isolated running result in Hammersmith ending up with the ball edging their way further down the field. Scottish find themselves again defending on their own try line which they do successfully for several phases, but as the Hammers offensive line spreads out an overlap is created on the blindside, quick hands and the ball is out to Eldredge who steps back inside, with an excellent decoy by Roche on the outside, is over the line and puts it down to take the score to 39 – 7.
Full time Hammersmith 39 – London Scottish 7
Man of the Match: Josh Petit & Sol Lucas
Tin man : Andrew Rogan
Rylance x 2, Watson, Ralston, Petit, Stenson, Eldredge
Eldredge x 2