Hammers 3s v Millfield Badgers

Hammers travelled to Richmond Park on Saturday to start their league challenge against newly promoted Millfield Badgers.

With the opposition being well known to the squad – having beaten them last year in the MMT Cup – Hammers knew that a physical challenge was lying ahead, but one they were ready to face.

The game started frantically with the Badgers scrum half taking quick tap penalties to keep the tempo up and force the hammers defensive line to re-adjust. This frenetic pace was not helped by Hammers being unable to get through the phases effectively enough to slow the tempo down to suit the game plan. Only a great defensive shift saw Hammers, including a massive tackle from Corban (7), kept the Badgers from crossing the line despite being camped in their own 22 area for a good 10 minutes.

With 30 minutes played and the score still 0-0 Badgers kicked towards the corner in open play and forced what was looking like a contestable line out opportunity in the Hammers 22 area. However, a quick line out throw by Thomas Weston-Davies (8) in Hammers own 22 area saw the ball moved to Fly-Half Steve Harris (10) who exploited the space left behind by the Badgers chase kicked ahead.  Under the pressure from winger Nick Barrington-Haynes’ (11) great chase the retreating Badgers full-back kicked the ball into touch 10 metres out and Hammers tails were up.

Off the resulting line out and phase play Hammers won a penalty in front of the sticks which Steve Harris slotted over to make the score 0-3 to the Hammers.

The last 10 minutes of the half were played around the half-way line as the Badgers attack play was unable to break the Hammers defence but likewise Hammers were unable to build the phases they needed. However, with less than a minute on the clock Badgers gave away a penalty near the half way line. Knowing it was the last play of the half Steve Harris (10) kicked the ball to within 5 metres of the Badgers try line and a few phases later after the line out was secured saw James Smart (4) picking and going from 2 metres out to score a decisive try. Harris converted to make the half time score 0-10 to Hammers.

Despite knowing the areas that needed to be improved in the second half, Hammers were unable to stamp their authority down on the game and with 25 minutes to go were reduced to 14 men after scramble defensive pressure. Try as they might to keep the full complement of Badgers out, Hammers just ran out of defenders and Millfield crossed over in the corner to bring the score 5-10 with 15 min to go.

Back to a full complement, Millfield increased the pressure and through hard running lines managed to get over for a second try. 10-10 with 10 minutes to go.

Both sides played for the win, but the issues that had stiffened both sides continued and despite a last minute opportunity for Hammers the game finished a 10-10 draw.

Hammers came away from the game happy with their defensive commitment however were all too aware that ill discipline in attack probably let that result slip away from them. Nevertheless a promising start to the season.

Tries:     James Smart

Conv:    Harris x1

Pen:       Harris x1

MOM: Corban – tackling machine

Tin Man: Ollie – Yellow Card