The Hammers Women’s 1st XV bring the OOSH!

Once again the rugby gods smiled down on us and we had bright sunshine for our trip to the top of the Northern Line. Unusually we also arrived to find that the Hampstead pitches still had grass on them! Clearly we should travel up there early every year.

As expected it was a tough game from the start with Hampstead bringing the physical intensity they’re known for. However, our two weeks of focus on contact and dominant tackles paid off as we took it to them both with our tackles and carries. Ten minutes in, Hammers strong scrummaging turned over the ball in Hampstead’s 22, and although I went down under friendly fire (Carola) it was worth it as the backs used the turnover ball to our advantage with Sally driving over in the corner to put the first points on the board. The wide angle made the conversion difficult but we were ahead 0-5. Hampstead are not a team that easily drops their heads and so they came straight back at us and soon had us under pressure on our own line. Despite a try being held up by Katherine, Hampstead crossed the line on the wing and converted to make it 7-5.
Half time.

The game then became somewhat of an arm wrestle as the backs from both teams decided that the forwards hadn’t had enough scrum practice in the previous weeks and proceeded to give us lots of opportunities to scrummage (at least 25 scrums at the current count). After a concerning injury to a Hampstead player (update: she has been checked and cleared by the hospital) we moved to a different pitch to continue the game. A (very) high tackle on Meg 2 metres out gave a Hampstead player 10 minutes rest. Alex then decided that some things are best done yourself and cut through the Hampstead defence to score. Sirri converted to make it 7-12. We continued to put Hampstead under pressure with our kicking game and strong carries, but small mistakes and penalties started to cost us and we found ourselves defending our try line once again. Pressure eventually told and Hampstead scored on the wing again. The conversion proved too difficult and we were all square at 12-12 with 10 to go. We reflected under the posts that we needed to take the game straight back to Hampstead and that’s what we did. Pressure on the kick off and at the breakdown earned Hammers a penalty right in front of the posts. Sirri stepped up to slot the kick and put us ahead 12-15 with 5 minutes left on the clock. Although it was a tense 5 minutes, strong defence and discipline held for the Hammers and Hampstead weren’t able to respond. A great match and the first win of the season!

Forward of the match – Emma Stilwell for great scrummaging and strong carries
Back of the match – Alex Whyte for her excellent kicking game and organisation of the back line
Special mention – Sirri Raines for calm kicking under pressure to net Hammers the win.