Hammers fall agonizingly close against Havant

It had been a couple of tough weeks for the Hammers boys, and with 2 back-to-back defeats still stinging, the Hammers boys were away to Havant, the league leaders, and clear contenders to this season’s league title. 

It was a terrible start, with Hammers conceding a penalty off the first tackle and proving that the interpretation of the new tackle laws was still a roll-of-the-dice.  Off the boot of the Havant 10, the home side found themselves in an ideal position to maul over and open their account, which they promptly did so. 7-0. 

Off the restart the Hammers showed signs of life, regathering the ball off a high Ross Anderson drop-kick and banging away at the formidable Havant defence. A Havant penalty for not rolling away allowed Joe Carolan a shot at the posts – 7-3.

Any thought of building on these tentative steps were dashed when Alex Spicer lost the Havant restart in the sun, the ball then reactively played at by Rogan from an offside position.  Again, the Havant 10 kicked themselves into a scoring position, this time on the other side of the pitch, which allowed the physically larger side to bang away at the Hammers line and eventually score.  14-3.  A further series of Hammers pens saw our red warriors punish again with an almost identical Havant score, allowing Havant to claim early honours after 10 minutes and a 21-3 score line.

What the hell boys.

It was from this point that the game changed. Whether buoyed by belief, anger, or the fear of a raging Jacko – who knows – something gripped the men from Hurlingham and they started to attack with verve, vigor, and speed.

Havant struggled to contain the Hammers.  A 15 meter driving maul from the back of the line-out 15 restored respectability to the score.  Magic feet from Joe Carolan and the subsequent conversion would see them coming within touching distance of taking the lead.  Epic running lines from the outside backs and a series of hand-offs would let them take it, before another try by the tireless forward pack gave them a bit of breathing space.  The vocal Havant crown was silent.  27-21. Could this really be happening? 

Starting the second half with more determination and clearly having just received a blast, the Hammers found the Havant defence more firm in its constitution.  Now defending the lead, the Hammers played Rugby in the right spaces, with the boot of Ross seeking to keep the home side pinned in the corner. The game turned however when Hammers talisman and Havant local Tim Russel received a yellow for a slap-down – in the 10 minutes he was cooling his heels, Havant showed their game smarts, putting a try down the now vacant wing after stretching the valiant Hammers defence around the park.  Injuries began to pile up, with Gregor and 1st XV captain Tom Proctor both leaving the field for treatment.  A Havant penalty bought them more breathing space, before final try against a now-depleted Hammers side saw the league leaders take the win out of reach of the Hammersmith boys and – to our frustration – out of the realm of the within-7 bonus point.  

The game ended 39-27 to Havant but a much improved performance from the last two weeks gave the boys something to be proud of.