Hammers 2s suffer heavy defeat at the hands of Belsize

Happy New Year Hammers fans!

I hope you all had wonderful Christmases filled with good food and New Year’s Eve parties adorned with plentiful booze and friends. The Hammers’ boys certainly enjoyed their time off but were raring to go after 5 weeks without games due to the cold weather back in December. Their mood was elevated further when the team sheet came out on Thursday boasting a squad adorned with talent, boasting 11 chaps who have represented the first team as well as the return of a couple of lads from injury. A bit of joue was certainly in order to kick-start the year. The weather on the day was definitely not on the same page though as the wind howled across the pitch and the rain drenched the warm up T-shirts. A little bit of tough rugby would be needed for one half at least it would seem.

And tough rugby is certainly what we got from a good Belsize Park outfit keen to keep their cup run going. The game started well enough with Hammers receiving the restart well and kicking with the wind to play in the right areas in the pitch from the off. It seemed however that the Hammers’ luck was also wet as the weather and from that moment on not a lot went right for the boys. A disorganised kick chase giving the opposition wingers plenty of time and space to run into setting the theme for the day in what was a hard afternoon to swallow. The first half remained attritional throughout with neither team able to take a hold of the game. Belsize kept coming with a nice 50-22 kick giving them a dangerous lineout 15m out from Hammers’ line. The twin towers of James Lalor and Milo Storey however put the hooker under enormous pressure and the referee deemed the throw not straight giving the boys a chance to scrum and exit their own red zone. A contentious penalty decision at said scrum gave the ball right back and Belsize Parks’ scrum half wasted no time in tapping and going quickly, allowing him to take advantage of a retreating defensive line to sneak over and score the first points of the game. With the conversion a 7 point deficit was handed to the boys who decided to stop messing about and get on with it.

The team started putting together some great structural play to get back in the opposition half and really pressure the opposition but their defence was dogged and kept us out for 10 minutes until the half time whistle. A good reaction to going down knowing we’d be playing into the wind from now on. The second half started much the same with Hammers stealing the restart and immediately piling on more pressure and continuing to build momentum. The try line was beckoning but the final pass and the bounce of the ball just never seemed to go our way and Belsize came away unscathed. That theme continued and little went right for the lads from that point on. Good phases ended up with the final pass missing its place, kicks bounced the wrong way just as Rich Vaughan looked to have set himself up to score a wonder try, a solid line out and maul getting held up before the backs could be unleashed. A very frustrating second half…

Belsize Park went on to score 4 tries in the second half which can be explained by some poor defence but mostly by good play from their wingers stepping across the line and picking out mismatches in their favour. The game continued to slip away from the lads in red until a final rally led to a scintillating break in the dying minutes by Sandy Duncan which looked as though it would at least get us a consolation try only for his hamstring to pop 10m out, earning him DOTD (rather harshly in my opinion). That final play rather summed up the afternoon for the Hammers, nothing quite went our way. The rub of the green, as they used to call it back in my day, just not with us.

And so our cup run is over, certainly not the way we wanted to start off a new year which offered such promise, but the only way is up and the league beckons next week at Old Haberdashers. A strong reaction will be no doubt be on everyone’s minds this week for that one.

Final Score 0-31

MOTM – James Maddigan

DOTD – Sandy Duncan (rather harshly) for tearing his hamstring whilst making a breakaway