Hammer’s 1st team hosted top of the league Havant at Hurlingham Park, in what promised to be a thrilling encounter. Havant came looking to cement their place at the top of the league, whilst Hammers were focused on regathering form and righting-some-wrongs following their previous encounter against the south coast team. With The Temperance hosting the Fulham FA cup fans, up stepped the 8 Bells, who provided side-line beer for the match day, lifting the voices of the travelling fans and Hammers faithful.
With baited breath, the crowd watched as the ref blew for the start of the match. With a sloppy restart and compounding errors, Hammers found themselves 10 metres from their own line, only to find themselves in familiar territory – penalty to Havant. The hosts gladly took the 3 points. Sustained pressure from Havant and another grevious error resulted in a penalty kick to the Hammers corner, from which Havent started a driving maul. Hammers resident bad boy Barry ‘The Bruiser’ Scarr, was not best pleased with the Havant endeavour, and forced the issue. The result? A penalty try, and some cheese for his efforts. 10 minutes in the bin for the back row player, 10-0 down, not the start Hammers were after.
The Hammers faithful fans began to question – would this be the same performance as the previous week?
Fear not. A strong response from the Hammers as they looked to breakdown the Havant defence, a strong driving maul and hard lines putting pressure on the travelling team. More pressure, and then…Hammers cross the line. First team captain Tom Proctor, with a trademark pick through the middle of a ruck!!! He glided in untouched, reassuring the fans there is still life in the old man. Conversion successful, 10-7 to Havant. Following the try, Hammersmith are awarded a series of penalties, and once again returned to the Havant 22’. The Havant defence stood strong this time and kept out the home team.
Hammers were marshalled around the park with a quality kicking performance from Ross at 10, keeping the travelling team pinned back in their half. Havant eventually broke out of their 22 thanks to a quality kick chase, only to be stopped thanks to some solid midfield tackling from both James the “Maddog” and Marshall, keeping Havant at bay.
Unfortunately it would be Havant that would add next to the score sheet, a series of penalties resulted in Havant re-entering the Hammers 22’, and utilising their driving maul once more. Although brought to a stop, the large Havant pack deferred to their pick-and-go game, resulting in crossing the try line again. Conversion successful, Havant 17- Hammers 7.
A sequence of kicks back and forth brought in the games next stanza, with both teams looking to play territory. Strong carries from both teams, combined with a solid defence, resulted in lasting deadlock.
But then…Hammersmith, with a driving kick deep into the Havant 22. The strong running Havant back three opted to run it out targettign the right wing. A good kick chase saw Hammers in high numbers defensively, but from no where….Barry Scarr, picking out an intercept and strolled in 30 metres out, making amends for his heinous behaviour earlier! Conversion unsuccessful, Havant 17- Hammersmith- 12.
Constant pressure and flowing rugby pinned the Havant team back in their own 22. High tackle on debutant scrum half Sam Seymour, resulted in the second cheese of the day being awarded to a Havant player. Half time called, both teams returned to the sheds, Hammers in full confidence they could cause an upset.
Both sets of fans welcomed back the teams in full voice. The second half saw both come out with renewed vigour, knowing that the slightest lapse in concentration could cost them dearly.
For 15 minutes neither team could add to their tally, strong driving mauls and line breaks from either side getting close but no cigar. It would be Havant that would add to the scoresheet next, following a big line break, shipping the ball wide to score in the corner, conversion successful. Havant 24- Hammers 12.
Rallying chants of ‘Hammers, Hammers’ from the sideline drove the Hammers forward. Pressure in the Havant 22’ eventually broke down the travelling team, with a carry to the line from fly half Ross, who lifted the ball into the smallest of spaces for in form full back Pete Morris to glide into, and around the winger. With a Shearer—esque celebration added for good measure, it was the lift the Gammers needed! Havant 24- Hammers 17.
What happened next will be written into folklore. An open-field move saw the elusive Pete Morris receive an inside ball from Ross, giving him space to glide from within the Hammers half all the way up to the Havant 22. Dancing feet and a switch pass to the supporting player and fan favourite Matt Killeen allowed him to glide over in the far corner after stepping the Havant full back! It was like something out of Swan Lake, a move straight off the training park. Head Coach Mark Jackson could be heard to utter the words ‘I a ****ing genius’. Conversion successful, 24 a-piece, what a game on at Fortress Hurlingham.
Havant didn’t lie down. Through sustained pressure, they made their way into the Hammers 22’ and, with a penalty awarded in front of the post, opted for the 3 points. Havant retook the lead as we entered the final 5 minutes.
Unfortunately it would not be Hammers day. A well-worked penalty kick to the corner for Havant and an ever present strong driving maul saw the travelling team cross the whitewash again in negative time, confirm their win for the day. Full time Havant 34- Hammers 24.
It was not to be for the home team , although they will take their renewed energy and performance down to Kent the following week, as they look to disrupt Tunbridge Wells.
Congratulations go to debutants Sam Seymour and Jack Macgregor, as well as returning prop Ed Wynne. Hammersmith wish the best to Havant as they look to solidify their position at the top of the table.