Hammers 4s XV Triumph in a Torturous Tempest over a Fierce Feltham

Hammersmith and Fulham 4s XV went into Saturday having recorded back-to-back losses, amounting to the team’s worst start to a season for four years. Yet, in a week where petrol was scarcer than veterans at training, nothing would prevent the Hammers from turning up in droves to right the wrongs of previous weeks.

So focused on the mission at hand was Marsh, and so keen to flaunt his back-to-school plimsols, that bringing appropriate footwear was no longer a significant concern. With the team assembled, and boots adequately redistributed, a storm was coming to Feltham.

Literally, a storm was brewing. As if Steve “Scotty T” Danby had summoned the mighty Zeus himself with his rousing words and sultry Geordie twang, a biblical tempest gathered over the outer reaches of West London.

Kicking into the wind to start the game, Hammers fly-half, Nick Emmett, bounced the ball along the ground to only just make it past 10. What appeared to the untrained eye to be a pathetic fumble of a kick, was indeed a beautiful masterstroke from the well-versed veteran to nullify the, now, gale-force winds.

A strong defensive set in the Feltham half and penalty turn-over won the ball back and put the Hammers on the front foot. Kicking to the corner, the ever-wise Emmett deciding to get the ball off the ground this time, the Hammers threatened an attacking lineout.

Three Feltham turnovers and re-entries into the 22 later, Marsh, on debut and feeling the 99-agility of his recently borrowed boots, dropped a shoulder to cross the whitewash and score the opening points of the game.

0-7 to the visitors. A good start.

With a pack size to rival the Springboks, Feltham came back swinging, crashing time and again upon the Hammers defence. After 5 minutes of relentless pressure, the flood defences gave out. The sluice gates opened and Feltham trundled over the line.


For the subsequent 20 minutes, a period characterised by knock-ons, forward passes and lost balls in contact, either the Hammers backs hadn’t cleaned the hair-pomade from their pre-match ritual off their hands, or the weather was starting to take its toll.

Pacey debutant Dan Chirwa dropped a pass from Jamie Drysdale, who had boshed through the Feltham centres, to squander a 2 vs. 1 on the fullback and an undeniable try-scoring opportunity. Such was the apparent error, that when gifted exactly the same opportunity 5 minutes later, Drysdale flagrantly ignored Chirwa’s cries and put ball to laces rather than risk the apparent danger of another pass in those conditions.

Late in the half and exploiting Feltham’s eagerness to “Fold the 9” (as was overheard several times), Tomos withheld his offload from the top of an attacking line-out, jumped to the floor and simply strolled through the Feltham pack cross the line without challenge.

12-5 at half time.

Forced changes to the Hammers 9/10 combination on either side of half time due to injury seemed to cause confusion, as the ball was suddenly finding its way to the wing without hitting the turf. With another debutant Ollie Boulton filling in at 9, and the revelations of what was possible, Hammers discovered an entirely new region of the pitch – the 15-metre line.

Now, to be honest, I don’t remember much of the second half because I spent most of it gasping for oxygen like a fish out of water (pretty sure I’ve missed a try in here somewhere, sincere apologies Ed Haynes), but from what could be discerned between frantic breaths, the Hammers had discovered their Joue Joue.

Apparently fresh off watching a Quade Cooper highlights reel, Ollie Boulton threw shoulders left and right to weave through the Feltham pack for another try. In the dying embers of the game, again appearing as the protagonist in our tale, Marsh (playing 8 by the way) cleared his own lines with a monstrous kick to an isolated Feltham forward, only to recollect the ball himself and offload to a charging Scotty T who topped off an ultimate breakaway try.

Final score: 5-36

With a roster of scorers spread across many positions, strong performances from a string of debutants playing out of position, and a genuinely impressive 50% conversion rate in ungodly conditions, the 4s displayed their strength in depth and unity as a team. Bring on the rest of the season!