Like every nautical epic, our tale has a terrifying storm, an old miser with one boot and most importantly, Victory!
Hammers set sail earlier than usual from the Port of Victoria to face the day’s adversaries. As predicted by Ed’s eerily accurate Navy shipping forecast, storm Kieran was prepared to his worst and the rain began. By the time the Hammers arrived at the battlefield the rain seemed unyielding. The field was dotted with standing water and even deeper puddles. Warming up on the 3G left the team drenched before the starting whistle had even been blown. But, that was where our good luck ended….. For Hammers were about to face their greatest foe; ‘A Classic Hammers Start’….
Hammers received the kick off and exited well, however an early penalty put Brighton into the corner, where several pick and go’s later they found their way to the line to take the lead.
Hammers responded with some good attack on the following phases and drove deep into the Brighton half. However, after a midfield fumble the ball was kicked through by the opposition and Brighton then proceeded to win the footrace and extend their lead against the run of play.
Play continued following the restart and things were pretty neck and neck until Brighton managed to stretch the Hammers defence just enough to sneak round the outside and add a third to their tally for the day.
The old foe was proving debilitating to the Hammers, currently 17-0 down after 12 minutes. Yet something was in the back of their minds. They were not prepared to tread the boards of Brighton Pier later actually being as big a loser as they would surely look in double denim. So the comeback began….
Hammers threw together some excellent drives and through sustained pressure won a penalty. The lineout in the corner was won after some superbly subtle acting from Alex Spicer (not be his last performance this day) and the maul marched on towards the line. By the power of some mystically unexplained sea curse, the maul appeared to collapse? Hammers played away and started to camp on the Brighton 5m. A few drives later Big Josh managed to force his way to the line with a rage that was only matched by his disdain for the weather. Carolan added the extras.
The second try for Hammers came in a very similar fashion, with a penalty once again setting the stage for another rousing Spicer acting masterclass. This time the maul held strong and the mighty Hammers pack drove over with Barry Scarr nabbing the credit. Another conversion for Joe.
Late into the First half Hammers were in possession around the half way line with the Brighton defence ready to take what could be thrown at them. With a move straight out of the Leroy Jenkins playbook, Hammers’ favourite adopted Northerner Tom Proctor picked and went through the middle of the ruck. Those old legs found a gear that had long since been forgotten as he sprinted towards the opposition 22. A draw and give on the fullback let the much more capable speedster Timmy Russell put on the afterburners and finish Hammers third try.
The half time whistle blew not too long later and the Hammers went in at half time 19-17 up.
There was a quick start to the second half and Hammers found themselves with a lineout on the Brighton 5m. This was to be Spicer’s ‘piece de resistance’. A trick lineout call and some more superb acting by the supporting forwards cast that sold the entire audience on pitch and in the stands alike, saw Alex Spicer make it to the try line almost completely untouched!
Brighton later responded to this opening act with a penalty kick that brought their total to 20.
A little later on Brighton were attacking up the far side of the pitch and proving difficult to control. Some quick hands and it looked like they were going to break away up the wing, but wait! What was that? Was it a bird? Was it a plane? NO! it was the sight of Big Josh steaming across half the pitch towards the escapee winger, he stood no chance as Big Josh proceeded to execute the most perfect flying lariat you have ever seen! And how does modern society react to such acts of vigilantism? A yellow card, I can’t spek….. It was at this point Brighton decided they had found a potential chink in the Hammers armour….and the penalty calls for a scrum began.
Although it’s always hilarious to see a winger try and be a flanker… Hammers were under the cosh in the scrums and were doing just about enough maintain their own ball. However this didn’t stop the Hammers from pushing ever onwards. A series of attacks later gave Hammers a break through the middle. The channel was flooded but an offload didn’t quite make it to hand. However, the ever low to the ground Ben Dugdale managed to recover the play and deliver a lovely little scoop up to Jack Watters who had the gas to finish the move and score under the posts.
Big Josh made an emphatic return to the pitch after his time on the naughty step with another great cover tackle after Brighton took a cheeky quick 22 dropout. His reward this time? A face full of mud and a period of short term blindness….Josh really hated the weather……..
Storm Kieran reared his ugly head again deep into the second half but that wasn’t enough to throw Hammers of their game. Making up for his previous error of not stepping a hooker in open field, second favourite adopted Northerner Harry Boyd finished another great try in the far corner. Northerners do like this weather….
Brighton, through a series of penalties, made their way into the Hammers 22 where they were to strike one final blow across the bow of the great warship HMS Hammer. Despite the best effort of First Officer Ed Farher making his debut at tighthead, Brighton managed to win their own scrum ball and begin their assault. The tight defence was solid and the Hammers held strong. However Brighton once again managed to stretch away and score in the far corner to earn themselves a bonus point.
As the game drew to a close Hammers gained a lineout just outside the 22. Hammers won the ball and followed up with a series of pick and go’s. Big Bad Barry eventually breaking the line and charging down the wing. A good connection with his scrum half partner in crime and Ben Dugdale scored the final try of the match.
The final whistle blew and the Hammers had earned their first away win of the season in an absolute stormer! The final score 41-25. The story continues next week back in blighty when Hammers take on Bournemouth. Roll on another epic!