A bitterly cold but beautifully sunny winter’s day was the setting for the 40th Anniversary of Hammersmith & Fulham Rugby club which in return promised to serve up two epic home performances from the 1s and 3s.
First up was the 3s who faced Hampstead 2nd XV, currently 2 places above in the league. With Hammers skirting near the bottom few places, a win was crucial to relieve some pressure and start building momentum towards the second half of the season. With a 1pm scheduled start the excitement had to be momentarily contained while the two sides waited on the referee to arrive.
Kick off was taken and Hampstead got off to a perfect start with two early tries, going 10-0 up through some strong attacking and expansive rugby. This would be the theme throughout the match with the team in possession making significant yards each time. Next to strike were Hammers through a pick and go from Magnus Barber off the back of a ruck followed by a series of almighty fends before crossing the try line. Steve Harris converted to keep Hammers within touching distance
Hampstead returned the favour to go 15-7 up before Hammersmith pressure from a line out penalty and good structured play fed one of many strong runs from Ultan to bring Hammers back within 1 point.
Further points from Hampstead threatened to give them a 6-point lead going into half-time before captain Steve Harris once again produced magic from his boot to kick a 35 metre drop goal into the wind which resulted in Hammers trailing by 20-17 in time for the oranges.
A controversial try by Hampstead early in the second half was followed by good structured play once again from Hammers, leading to a line break and the resulting try from Cillian Waldron.
With 20 minutes to go Hampstead now had a 13-point lead and much resolve and determination was going to be needed from the Hammers side in the last quarter. They didn’t disappoint and a snipe from the number 10 Chris Eldridge lead him over the line and once again was duly converted by Steve to make it one score.
A controlled and patient display from the forwards in the closing minutes with a series of pick and goes broke down a tired Hampstead defence and once the ball was picked up by front row Justin Perry there was no stopping him over the line.
One point in it and it fell to Captain Steve Harris to kick a high pressure and less than straightforward conversion for the win. With no doubt in his mind Steve slotted the kick between the posts concluding a faultless kicking game from the skipper at 15 and a strongly deserved man of the match.
Tin man went to Tom Broadway for touching the ball down on his try line with the Referee awarding a try to the opposition.
Final Score: Hammersmith & Fulham 38 – Hampstead 37
Tries: Magnus, Ultan, Waldron, Eldridge, JP
Conversion: Harris x5
Drop Goal: Harris