Having lost their first two Middlesex 1 league games Hammers 3rd XV hosted local South West London rivals the Millfield Old Boys Badgers, at Fortress Hurlingham, on a warm 29th September afternoon.
Benefiting from a compliment of newly selected Hammers, blended with many of the 3XV old guard, on paper Hammers posted a strong XV.
Following a solid warm up Hammers took control of the game early, having the vast majority of the initial territory and possession. Hammers intent to play was obvious form the outset with ball being spun wide and wingers Huw Bowen and George Lawson both getting involved in the early action.
Early in the first half stalwart Huw Bowen showed his top-class finishing skills from the half way line, rounding several Badgers on his way to dot down under the sticks. The points were added by newbie Scrum half Harry Roe who displayed confidence from the boot all afternoon in what became a high scoring local derby.
After a further attritional battle, with big forward carries being made by Tim Chandler, Chris Appleyard and James ‘Seamus’ Heaney the Hammers lead was added to by no8 Damo ‘Thomas Waldrom’ who carried hard to dot down over the line.
However, the Badgers didn’t come to Hurlingham just for the glorious Fulham sunshine and showed their dogged determination and grit to fight back mid first half, taking back possession, building strong phases and working hard to cross the line twice in close succession.
Hammers retaliated with great skill being shown by the youthful Oli Scholes who dotted down to help re-build the hammers lead however, Bagders again played their one-up game plan and built phases to score in the second period of the first half.
After a further period of phase play and strong forward carries from Oli Mitchel, Bertie Weston Davies, and veteran Simon Khalil Hammers speedo wearing skipper Will Parker, showed grit to get over the line and further build the lead for Hammers before half time.
Badgers started the second half strongly dominating possession and territory, leading to two early tries which pushed them into the lead with Hammers heads starting to drop. Close games such as these often test one’s character, with Huw Bowen stepping up to show character in abundance and score two further top-class long-range tries, putting hammers back in front.
Mid second half Hammers coach Dan de Wolf chose to make changes and bring on veteran scrum half Dave Buchanan, speedster Jack Hooper, the athletic Benji Reid and the new streamlined Abe Knight, demanding an immediate impact from the bench. Dan’s decision was rewarded by Jack Hooper connecting well with Oli Scholes, who both showing their ‘Dunseath coached’ in contact offloading skills to get the ball into the hands of Dave Buchanan who rounded his defender and turned back his years to finish a 50-metre run in under close chase.
Huw Bowen again added to the points tally showing his top-class finishing skills to score his 4th try and earn himself a man of the match performance. Hammers were now well ahead however, the ever-dogged Badgers played with heart and in good spirit, clawing one try back ahead of the final whistle.
Overall this was a close fought contest with Hammers just edging in front to take the victory with the final score being 46-38!