Hard work pays off for the 1st XV Hammers Women!

Whether it’s the annual Pub Golf social, post-match boat race or a game of pre-training touch, it is a truth universally acknowledged by all that “A quick game is a good game“. The referee made it clear from the off that we needed pace in everything from set pieces to open play in order to keep in his good graces. I have never seen tired bodies roll away from a tackle, throw themselves into scrums and lineouts or ruck faster for a full 80 minutes than I did on Sunday. Such athletes. In true ‘anything the forwards do, we can do better’ fashion, our well-drilled back line embraced the “need for speed” mentality and capitalised on the momentum, scoring a try so quickly in the opening minutes that even the Veo couldn’t catch it in time. Swift hands from the backs resulted in our first score as Ella took a hard line and sliced through the Hackney defence to cross the whitewash and snag our first points of the day. The extras were duly added by Sirri and Hammers were 7-0 up!

Structure and discipline was the theme of the first half; strong forward play threw the defence in disarray which in turn enabled the backs to pull off some ridiculously clean lines. Smart kicking from Alex W mounted the pressure on Hackney; with them conceding multiple penalties in quick succession, it wasn’t long before we were gifted a penalty in front of the posts. Stepping up to the plate, Sirri slotted the kick making it 10-0. Hereafter followed some frantic play on both sides. A brief deviation from our gameplan enabled Hackney to make some headway and get deep into our half, but solid defence on our wings and dominance in the scrums got us out of jail and it wasn’t long before another sharp bit of backs play got us on the scoreboard again. With playmaker Alex W deftly feeding to a strong centre combination, Ella tore through the defence again before giving a slick offload in contact to Sirri who crashed over the line to bag our third under the posts. Shamelessly converting her own try, Sirri added the extras again to make it 17-0

Some lovely kick chase play edged us into the good ball area, hard work from the forwards tied up with a smart draw and delayed pass from Alex W, making it into the hands of an unstoppable Steffy for our third try of the day. Conversion nailed again, Sirri put us at 24-0

The half time message was simple. Keep to our game plan, reduce the dogleg in our defensive line and maintain the same energy and intensity from the first half. (This last point was requested by the referee – as soon as we receive the footage from his bodycam, I will share screenshots of how the front row on both sides reacted to the concept of having to run towards scrums.)

Hackney were relentless in trying to get back into the game, working hard to field Alex W and Sirri’s kicks and sending their physical outside centre and left winger to challenge us. But Hammers stood their ground in defence – huge tackles, impressive defensive presses and quick rucks killed their offload game and returned possession to our hands. 

There’s an old rugby saying “Forwards dictate who wins the game, backs decide by how much“. It’s very famous, but apparently Tappers has never heard of it because how else can we explain her thunderous chief run at the line, smashing through 3 Hackney players and dotting down the ball for our fourth try #oosh! Special shout out goes to the referee for noticing that Hackney tried to put their hands under the ball after it had been grounded and deny the score (sneaky!) Maintaining a 100% kick record for the game, Sirri put us at 31-0 to firmly secure our delightful bonus point win.

 Back Of The Match – went to Ella for her smart lines, clever linking play and big tackles

Forward Of The Match – went to Carola for her hard carries and cat-like reflexes at the lineout

Super Sub – went to Amy R for the second week in a row after seamlessly slotting in as hooker and enabling the pack to maintain their dominance in the second half