For their second league fixture of the season, the Hammers travelled to London Cornish looking for another convincing win off the back of the 72-7 game vs Grasshoppers.
Warm up essentially consisted of walking the 20 miles between the changing rooms and the pitch and both teams were ready for what would be a competitive and physical game. It only took a few minutes for the Hammers to understand that Cornish’s backrow, averaging 6’2’’, would be the core of their attacking structure, facing a tough but vertically challenged 7-8 combination made of Ash and Jack Small.
Strong carries by the Cornish and lack of discipline from the Hammers gave the Cornish’s kicker an opportunity to get on the scoreboard and after 10 minutes the score was 3-0 for the locals. Good pressure on the following kick off allowed the Hammers to settle in the opposition’s half and eventually resulted in a penalty 25m in front of the posts, duly converted by skipper and fly-half Jack Davies. 3-3 after about 15 minutes.
London Cornish spent most of the first half ball in hand but were consistently denied by a red brick wall. On the other hand, H&F made the best of a few opportunities and a couple of phases after Ashton Mitchell sat down his opposite number, much to the surprise of all involved, Man of the Match Rob Fox ran a superb line and brought the Hammers back into the opposition half, taking advantage of a Cornish’s pair of centres more interested in interceptions than tackles.
As the Hammers got closer to the try line, they were rewarded by a penalty less than 10 meters in front of the posts. Taking everyone by surprise, including his teammates, Jordan Abbott tapped the ball before running into three defenders and scored the first try of the game, converted by Jack Davies. Cornish 3 – 10 HFRFC.
Determined to get back into the game, London Cornish bucked themselves up and set up a siege in Hammersmith’s 22’s for the remainder of the first half. Succession of penalties led to Ollie Rea being yellow-carded for a side entry on a maul. Great 7-man scrum and good pressure from scrum-half Louis van Langenhove forced Cornish’s no.8 to spill the ball out of the scrum and half-time was called before the local team could cross the white wash.
Second half started with a few amends in the backline, Slade Buchner having to move from second row to outside centre after the 1s drafted Ross Anderson. HFRFC quickly gained a penalty 25m on the right of the posts and Jack Davies didn’t miss the opportunity to increase the visitors’ lead. Cornish 3 – 13 HFRFC.
After spending the first half playing one-pass rugby off the nine, London Cornish decided the play wide and managed to make a break on the wing and enter the Hammers’ 22s. HFRFC’s infamous lack of discipline eventually offered a penalty 15m in front of the posts and opposition’s fullback had no problem kicking the ball over the bar. London Cornish 6 – HFRFC 13.
50 minutes into the game and Hammersmith and Fulham finally managed to play their game. Strong carries by Rob Fox and Sam White combined to a few penalties in Hammers’ favour moved the game into Cornish’s 22s. Sam White, again, used the momentum created by a good driving maul to get the Hammers on the try line and a couple of phases later, Ed Milner got the ball off the nine, bumped into a couple of defenders and scored under the posts. Try easily converted by Jack Davies (6/6 off the tee). London Cornish 6 – HFRFC 20.
As the Cornish were running after the score, the game became more open to the benefit of Hammers’ back three who thought this moment would never come.
Following another powerful driving maul in the opposition’s half, scrum-half Louis van Langenhove broke the defensive line in the middle of the park before offloading the ball to captain Jack Davies who then played wide for full-back Sam Smith. Another offload to this weekend’s second row/outside centre Slade Buchner and Chad’s second favourite brother put the ball down between the posts. Jack Davies added the conversion. London Cornish 6 – 27 HFRFC.
Few minutes later, a good call by Rob Fox allowed Sam N. to go for a run along the sideline before passing the ball inside to Sam S. Captain Jack picked the ball up, stepped the last defender and rewarded himself with a try underneath the posts before converting it. London Cornish 6 – 34 HFRFC.
Much to their credit, London Cornish didn’t give up whilst loosehead Sam White demonstrated why front-rows should never kick the ball. Last five minutes saw Ollie Rea being sent off for a second yellow card after he deliberately prevented the opposition scrum-half from tapping a penalty which could have resulted in a try. One minute later, it was Sam White’s turn to be yellow-carded for kicking the ball in a ruck, five meters away from the tryline. With two Hammer’s front rowers in the bin, London Cornish logically chose the scrum option. Little did they know that Jordan Abbott’s secret dream was to be a loosehead prop and as the Cornish found themselves under huge pressure from a 13-man defensive line, the ball was lost in contact and Hammersmith won the game without conceding a try.
Final score: London Cornish 6 – 34 Hammersmith & Fulham RFC.