Hammers 2nd XV put in a big performance

On an unseasonably warm day at Hurlingham Park, Hammers 2nd XV took to the field against old rivals Belsize Park. Pre-match tension was palpable, this fixture last season producing a 30-point drubbing to nil for the visitors, and a last-play epic win for hammers in the reverse.

With that in mind, and the words of coach Alan “Le Nugé” Jones ringing in their ears, Hammers knew they could not afford to start slow.

That is sadly exactly what they did. Conceding cheap breakdown penalties and allowing Belsize far too much go-forward with a lacklustre line speed, the Belsize Centre burst through from just inside the 22 to touch down. 0-7.

The backline for Hammers which, on paper, was spicier than both a vindaloo and Seb Moneys fashion sense, responded almost instantly, however. Some robust running lines from Centres James ‘Mad Dog’ Madigan and Robbie ‘Rupert’ Murdoch allowed the space for full back Max Dugdale to score out wide. Conversion missed, 5-7.

What followed next is fairly murky due to the fact it was the first official club social of the year and the Author, a known pintman in the local area, may or may not have overindulged in the festivities and has a patchy memory of the entire weekend.

Belsize managed to score what ended up being their final points of the game after some continued pressure in our 22, before a beautiful miss-pass from fly-half Ben Dugdale sent Murdoch over in the corner. His charming, better-looking brother Max kicked the conversion, and did so again after a driving maul in the corner which was touched down by Prop Zak Underwood.

This I believe sent Hammers in at the half with a slender 19-14 lead. During the interval, utility back Ainsley Howard, looking to return to the side at 13/15, was asked to play number 8. Eyebrows raised by some, he agreed to adapt and do his best out of position for the second 40.

The second half, though far looser and without the planned structure that the purists love to see, was dominant stuff for the home side.

After a quiet game prior, Aussie winger Bruce Morgan decided to turn the game on its head.

Scything through the defence at will, he made 3 brilliant line breaks from inside his own half, finishing one himself and feeding the other 2 to Scrum-half Matt Newman and Captain on the day, Flanker James Lalor. With all three conversions flushed by Dugdale, as well as a penalty, Hammers had seemingly out of nowhere opened up a 43-14 lead.

The penultimate try has not been claimed. The final try was an interception from Man of the Match, the aforementioned Bruce.

It must be said that the final 57-14 scoreline flattered Hammers slightly, but in the end, Belsize simply couldn’t deal with the speed and accuracy of the home sides backline.

Honourable mention must go to the tight 5 who scrummaged resolutely the entire game and defended countless phases deep in our own territory to stop Belsize scoring a single point in the 2nd half.

Team – Underwood, Burke, Donegan, Story, Clouston, Lalor, Smitheman, Clark, Newman, Dugdale B, Morgan, Maddigan, Murdoch, Nellany, Dugdale M. Reps Farrer, Hooper, Duncan, Macgregor, Howard