Hammersmith & Fulham 2nds vs. Bishops Stortford 3rds (Mitres) – 07.10.17
On Saturday Hammersmith & Fulham 2s travelled up to Bishops Stortford, a team that had won 1 out of their 2 previous league games. The Hammers needed to get the blood pumping quickly having arrived just 30 minutes before kick-off and having spent over 1.5 hrs on the bus (or an overnight flight for some). Despite this, the Hammers did switch on quickly and had a resilient defence for the first 15 minutes as Bishops Stortford applied strong and persistent pressure by retaining possession and staying in the Hammers’ half. After a few unforced ‘butter-fingers’ handling moments by the Hammers, Bishops Stortford broke through, flooded the gap, and quickly ran a second phase of play which resulted in a try being scored in the corner, 5-0.
Bishops Stortford quickly capitalised on the momentum that their first try had given them with some large units making strong carries and yards being gained around the rucks and in the centres despite an organised Hammers defence. About 20 minutes in Bishops Stortford crossed the line in the centres after a set-piece play and 2 phases, 10-0. The Hammers wanted to hit back badly but were denied possession from the kick off and, the same Bishops Stortford player crossed the line, 17-0.
Despite the Bishops Stortford pack dominating the scrum there were some great pick-ups under pressure by Hammers’ 8, Johnson, and service to the backs by 9, Leith. The Hammers knew it was critical to get points on the board before half time in order to stay in the game. The Hammers pack managed to slow down the pace and won a turn over. Looking to capitalise on this the Hammers built the phases and won a penalty which was kicked into the corner for a lineout to put the Hammers 5m from the Bishops Stortford line. A strongly contested but well-controlled lineout catch and drive by the forwards saw the Hammers cross the line. The try scorer? Jack Hooper – winger! Conversion by Morrow, 22-7. Just before half-time Bishops Stortford managed to cement their lead and hit back before half time after catching the Hammers on the back foot, 27-7.
Hammersmith and Fulham started the second half the better side and set out to play their style of rugby. Hammers’ centres, Bowen & Hall, tested Bishops Stortford’s tackling and managed to make good yards on several occasions with Hall preferring the most direct route – over the top of the tackler and legs pumping. The 8-9-10 link for Fulham worked well and yards were made against the opposition 10 channel as well, as advised by coach Riki at half-time. Around the 60 minute mark the opposition seized upon a 50:50 penalty decision and Bishops Stortford kicked for the corner. Bishops Stortford put on a solid drive from 10m out and a controlled maul turned the penalty decision into points, 32-7. With the opposition looking to close the game out they kicked for territory but the Hammersmith & Fulham back 3 worked together well and countered effectively in more broken play. Bishops Stortford crashed over the line with a pick-and-go after a length of the pitch counter, 37-7.
The Hammers look forward to the rematch against Bishops Stortford later in the season, and also to having significantly less muscle cramp. The bus trip debutants survived, just.
Final Score: 39-7
MOM: Chris Hall – who embodied ‘run it straight bro’
Tin Man: Rogan – SNAFU on the kit front