Hammers their own worst enemy against a hungry Horsham

Hammersmith and Fulham RFC – the 1s and 2s – travelled to Horsham for their second last match of the 2023-24 season, and after enduring a brief but very intense hailstorm in one of their more unusual warm-ups they took to the field full of energy and determined to achieve their first win in since Marlborough.

The Hammers were facing a home side that, after having their relegation confirmed the previous week due to a bit result, were playing their last home match of the season. On the Hammers side, the boys were keen to put in a performance and show they had teh skills and ability of a club that deserved to play level 5.  

It was a game of 2 halves, with the first being a tale of strong defence but muddled and inconsistent attack, but the 2nd showing that the boys were lethal in attack, but foiled by their old enemy – penalties, ill-discipline, and mental lapses.

Starved of ball, for the 1st 30 minutes, the Hammers bravely kept a hungry Horsham tryless.  Time and again, the Horsham forwards powered towards the Hammers line, only to met by a resolute defence and an efficient set piece.  Unfortunately, the lack of accuracy in attack and constant penalties for high tackles – 5 in the first half alone – revealed a Hammers team that was lacking cohesion, and getting inside their own heads.  Eventually, Horsham’s constant probing paid off, probing outside the 15, and going wide off multiphase play and finding space.  Twice they would exploit that overlaps and poor tackling to run in tries, before powering over under the posts for a 3rd try shortly before half time.  The Hammers were yet to get on the board, and the boys were frustrated.

It took until the 50th minute for the boys to get off the bus, when Hammers star winger Tim ‘Le Snack’ Russell hit a devastating line off a first-phase backs move and raced clear of the covering defence to score Hammer’s first try of the game, and Timmy’s 18th of the season. Score? 22-7 on the scoreboard and – according to Timmy – a typical example of Tim “dragging his teammates from their stupor to ignite a fightback, as he has done so often this season” (spoken in 3rd person). 

Hammers suffered a tough blow when the heart and soul of the side, James ‘Mad Dog’ Madigan, in one of his last matches before departing for Paris next season, absolutely butchered a 3 v 1, taking the ball into contact with the sole defender and upon realising his error decided to stay prone and feign an injury to his knee. Karma was to come for him later that evening when the bus driver decided to test his brakes whilst James was giving it the beans at the front with an unrequested stand-up routine. Rumour has it Bastards skipper Jack Watters had slipped the bus driver a tenner…

With Hammers trailing by 3 scores and chasing the game hard, mistakes ensued and Horsham were more than capable of taking advantage of these. The two sides traded blows, with who else but Timmy – matching his own club record with his 19th score of the season – after some great passing put Marshall MacLeod and then Joe Carolan into space, before Joe fed Timmy for yet another meat pie. Tim’s 19 scores leave him joint top of the league in this regard, at the time of writing, and in such scintillating form it would be a brave man to bet against him getting a hattrick against Welsh, for the second time this season, and securing the try-scoring title. 

 To mark his generosity and the breadth of his skillset, after making yet another break down his wing, Tim Russell threw an audacious offload back inside to centre MacLeod, and he scampered over the line to gratefully dot down for his first try of the season before quickly slotting the conversion as time pressed on and Hammers were 20 points shy of Horsham on the scoreboard.

Ultimately, a loose first half and sloppy mistakes at crucial points throughout the match were too much of an obstacle to overcome, and Horsham deservedly finished runaway winners and 20 points to the good. A very strong performance over the ball earned their openside flanker the Man of the Match award, whilst for the Hammers with 2 tries and one assist who else could it possibly have been, but Le Snack himself. As talented as he is handsome, already the calls for him to assume the captaincy next year are becoming deafening.

 Hammers move on to face London Welsh at Old Deer Park for the final match of the season in a fortnight’s time in their last game of the 2023/24 season.