It was a lovely, if chilly, day for a double header on Sunday. The match against S&E had been a long time coming for the 1st XV with our match before Christmas postponed due to covid.
The game began fairly evenly with both sides carrying hard and putting pressure on the breakdown. The Hammers scrum soon proved dominant with S&E under pressure, even on their own ball. However, S&E rallied and used the broken play from turnovers to their advantage. Their backs distributed well before putting their quick winger speeding around the Hammers defensive line to score. S&E showed this was their main strength in attack a short while later with a similar score to make it 0-12. Hammers then put pressure back on S&E with penalties and the breakdown and from the scrum to carry us into their 22. Strong teamwork between the forwards and backs led to Alex stepping through the defence to score with Chloe J converting to make it 7-12. The rest of that half belonged to S&E unfortunately with their speedy backline gaining them two more trys before the end of the half. Half time score 7-25.
The second half started well for Hammers with strong pressure in the S&E 22 leading to Kaye crashing the ball over from the back of the scrum, 12-24. S&E hit back through their winger not long after though, to make it 12-31. Hammers kept working through the phases, continuing to put S&E under pressure at the set piece. S&E then infringed at the goal line drop out by having a player ahead of the kicker (we’ve been burnt by this before) and had the scrum upgraded to a penalty by arguing with the ref. Katherine, always keen for a quick tap and go, took it quickly before popping it off to Kaye for her to dive over the line and score, 17-31. With it starting to feel like the game was turning in the Hammers’ favour, we upped the intensity of our attack. Alex, having moved to fullback for the second half of the game, saw an attacking opportunity after a kick from S&E. A couple of steps and a kick ahead led to what I believe is our first 50:22 of the season.
It was a glorious thing to see. The forwards kept the possession from the lineout and the backline pulled the S&E defence across the pitch. Hard work from the forwards kept the S&E defence tight, which allowed the ball to be sent out to the wing for Ellie to dot it down in the corner to make it 22-31. Knowing there wasn’t long left, Hammers charged back into the S&E 22 with hard carries and penalties gaining us ground. Unfortunately the final score was not to be, with a knock on allowing S&E to regather the ball and throw it into touch. A frustrating end to the game, much like their seemingly endless supply of subs (there was a lot of injury time in this game).
Forward of the match: Emma for her rampaging carries and excellent work in the scrum
Back of the match: Ellie for great defence tackles and a well earnt try