The boys born out of wedlock were at home this weekend to local rivals Belsize Park, who’s 2XV have provided many close and hard fought games.
The forecast predicted a dark and damp affair, but quiet the opposite was true. Despite the threat of rain in the skies, the heavens remained closed, and the boys were blessed with what be the last dry Saturday until next May.
Hammers had a bright start to the game. With an intelligent kicking display from fly half Ollie Weaver, Hammers maintained a long stint of territory inside the Belsize 22m. Unable to effectively clear their lines, alongside a string of penalties, the pressure was mounting for Belsize. A swift snipe from (myself) off the side of a maul, supported by winger Rory Nichol, saw a 2-1 created down the oppo blind side. A guaranteed try was the only plausible outcome, but a telescopic arm from the Belsize winger knocked the ball forward off its path. A penalty only was the call. Fortunately, with sustained field position, Hammersmith crossed the whitewash soon after. A right side scrum gave the 2XV backline plenty space to work with, but the space the oppo didn’t account for was behind them. A deft grubber kick from Weaver behind the rushing defence saw captain James Maddigan, more commonly known as Mad Dog, dot the ball down untouched for a try. Successfully converted. Belsize replied with a penalty kick, 7-3. The final notable play in the first half came from Hammers fullback Ned Russell. After receiving the ball from a set piece play, Russell attacked the line with menace. The first defender was dispatched with a hand off, and the second with pirouette that wouldn’t look out of place in Swan Lake.
After loosing a significant amount of blood through his nose, the authors memory of the second half is somewhat shaky. So think of this next segment as more of a tribute to the game, than an accurate recollection of events.
After a change of post for the far side linesman, the 2nd half could make way. Hammersmith began much like the first half, good field position through deep probing kicks from Weaver, Russell and winger Bryce Morgan. Field position was traded backwards and forwards between the two sides, with the Belsize lineout operating well and becoming a dangerous platform for the away side. Belsize tightened up their game to good effect, challenging the Hammersmith defensive line with multiple punchy runs. A few broken tackles proved costly for Hammers, with two tries in quick succession for Belsize. The two sides traded blows in the middle of the field, before a Belsize goal line drop out saw Hammers gain the upper hand again. A few slick passes left to right saw outside centre Ed Haynes collect the ball in space, and with an unexpected turn of pace, stormed down the touchline and across the whitewash. The score was now 19-13. By the final ten minutes of the game, the penalty count was building for both sides, the breakdown was becoming a messy affair. The final few minutes of the match approached, with the score line in the balance. Final blood was taken by Belsize, with a series of picks close to the line eventually seeing them over to score. Despite having missed all previous conversions, the Belsize 10 slotted the pivotal kick, pushing the score in favour of the away side, 19-20. Hammers didn’t have enough time to wrestle back the lead from here, with Belsize kicking the ball out to end a close and well fought tussle from both sides.
Next week, Hammersmith will travel away to Camberley, who currently sit 2nd in the league.
‘Mad Dog’ Maddigan x 1
Ned Russell x 1
Ed Haynes x 1
Ollie Weaver x 2
Ollie Weaver x 1