Spirits were high after a lovely coach journey down to leafy Camberley, the maddest of dogs putting on a great quiz to entertain the boys and really test our geological knowledge.
Off the coach and into a couple of shoebox freezers to get changed in, the day started to take a downward turn. Inspection of the pitch confirmed what we already knew, the rain had meant a sticky, boggy surface, not conducive to hammers footy.
The writing was on the wall after the very first scrum, Zak became the first man to levitate and the boys were going backwards faster than Ben Dugdale leaving a post match. Something was amiss with the front row chemistry, Zak and Rogan seemingly locking horns with each other, instead of focussing on the black and gold ogres in front of them.
Hammers absorbed early pressure admirably, scrapping at the breakdowns, effective low tackling and scrambling with Camberley offloading well. We eventually conceded after 12 mins to a well worked lineout play. Nice vision by Ross put Joe into some space, Dugdale followed with a dart, before Timmy as elusive as Tommy Proctor and a bus trip went close with a chip and chase. Hammers still playing some footy even though being outmuscled, showing plenty of ticker. We were keen to strike back immediately.
Harry Scarr not being a fan of Josh Smith’s work rate so far decided to give him the people’s elbow and knock him out, bringing Pelvis Popper Powter into the fray off the pine. The injection of half the southern hemisphere bomb squad did little to stop the Camberley momentum, some nice play from their forwards amongst some good hits by Josh, Spicer and Mad Dog saw them add two tries quickly to get out to 19-0.
Will then fell in love with the Camberley front row, attempting to propose at scrumtime, romantically dropping to one knee on a few occasions. The referee misconstrued this as an act of aggression and unfairly punished him with penalties. Some tired hammers defence saw us leak another couple of tries just before half time to put us 31-0 down at the break, no need to panic as we adjudged the wind to be worth 32 points, technically we were winning.
However, rugby is a game of two halves, and we lost both of them.
After some Remember the Titans-esque halftime speeches, the boys were fired up to get out there and mount a comeback. Naturally Camberley went the length of the pitch from the kick off, scored pretty easily and Rogan was shown a yellow for also trying to propose to the Camberley pack. Not the first time he’s tried to cut a fellow front rower’s lunch.
Down 38-0 and a man in the bin the boys could have easily thrown in the towel, rolled over and let the floodgates open completely. Not this group, the adversity tightened us up and we were determined not to be embarrassed further.
This saw the best period of play by the hammers, 20 minutes without conceding and building phases on attack. Some strong carries by that man Josh whose head is massive at the moment, his skull is also large, lead to Joe taking a short ball from Ross and freeing his hands for Bruce to score with his first touch of the ball. Some fans are wondering whether holding him back for so long was the right call.
Pumped up after finally getting some momentum the hammers sniffed a chance for more.
After some tight defence forced Camberley into a knock on, the boys were back on attack. Pelvis Popper running some tidy Y lines, Marshall skipping to the outside before a deliberate knock down by a desperate Camberley winger gave us another opportunity to strike. Dugdale wisely chose to tap quickly, with two strong carries towards the sticks, setting up a blind side set play with forwards and backs linking seamlessly. Dugdale threw a nice cut out pass to Ross who gathered and no-look-flick passed to Timmy in his 50th game for his now mandatory weekly meat pie.
After this the game got scrappy and descended into a stop start affair. Tempers being tested as the Camberley players started getting lippier than Proctor after a few baileys. One particular gentleman doing his best dancing with the stars impression all over our boys on the ground and it didn’t help the referee was doing his best Stevie Wonder impersonation, which saw things boil over momentarily. The game drew to an anti climax with Camberley comfortable victors and well deserved five points.
Proud of the boys’ efforts to stick to their guns and not give up in testing circumstances. Stand outs for the Hammers were man of the match Josh AA, the only thing that can stop the man at the moment is Spicer’s patella. Scotty covered what felt like 20,000 miles, about as much as his opposite gets paid. Proctor led from the front as usual, while Harry Scarr put in an admirable shift when spending most of the day going backwards. Dugdale had a quality game, some big shots in defence and did his best to clear scrappy ball. Mad Dog stood up against a quality midfield defensively, but ultimately a tough day for backs to stand out.
Congrats again to Timmy Russell on 50 caps, here’s to 50 more!
MOM: Josh AA