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The away fixture at Hampstead provided the usual pre-match game of ‘where the f**k are their changing rooms’. Head coach Mark Jackson struggled with the search in particular, walking around the mansions of Hampstead aimlessly following dud directions from his senior players. He wouldn’t have been so late were he not slowed down by many of the residences’ security guards intervening, fearing the tracksuited Irishman was scouting out his next burglary target.
The early drama and reduced warm-up time helped to sharpen Hammersmith & Fulham’s focus, and the clinical warm-up that followed proved to be an early indicator of things to come.
So. First half.
Things didn’t get off to the best of starts, with one or the worst kick-offs in rugby history after Joel Carolan had given it the big “going deep” chat instead dribbling meekly over the 10 metre line –but this was soon forgotten as the Hammers got into attacking gear quickly. A period of early possession and slick handling meant prop Jacob Poulton found himself with ball in hand out wide in a strong attacking position in the opposition half. Recollections of the exact distance from the try line vary widely, but one thing that isn’t up for debate was the efficiency with which he put away his try. Dummy to Will Smith thrown, afterburners on, he ate up the 10-45m quickly to turn in the first try. Alex Hart was quick to point out after the game that he was on hand to finish the effort, if required. Joe Carolan missed the conversion, obviously. 0-5
Overconfident after their initial success, Hammersmith let their opposition back into the game. The Hampstead no 4, who would carrying well all game, found and broke through a gap in the Hammersmith back line before putting his number 13 into space to go under the sticks. 7-5
Momentary blip forgotten, Hammersmith returned to their attacking ways. A few phases of forwards ball followed by a slick out-the-back move put number 13 James Lo onto the ball just inside his own half. Bouncing out of a double tackle, he carved up the remaining Hampstead defenders like a well-cooked Sunday roast and made his way through the bog to the try line – his Friday morning bi’s-and-tri’s gym session really showed as he held off a tackler to go over the white wash. Joe Carolan didn’t add the extras, naturally. 7-10
The following period of Hammersmith attacking dominance in the opposition half brought two penalties within kicking range. As both were right in front of the sticks, Joe Carolan finally got his points tally underway and took his side into the half time break comfortably up. 7-16
Hampstead rallied at the start of the second half, using the downhill slope to their advantage to earn a deserved try through their forward pack. The Hampstead kicker, having swapped tips with Joe C at half time, missed the conversion. 12-16
This proved to be the second half kick-up-the arse Hammersmith needed. A foray up the slope into the opposition half got Hammers within striking distance and their pack, bit between their teeth, did the rest. Big carrying and slick offloading out the tackle from the forwards – Jacob P to Josh McClean, Josh to Lachy – saw the men in red go over at serious pace. Alex Hart was quick to point out after the game that he could easily have pulled off a similar pass, were he not miles away from the action. With only mouldies on, Joe Carolan slipped in his run up and kicked the extra two points. 12-23
The next 10 minutes proved to be a real turning point in the game, where Hammersmith would distance themselves from their opponents and prove to all watching what serious promotion contenders they really are…
Keen to not let the Hammers pull away further, Hampstead rallied hard and mounted a sustained attack in search of a try. Their efforts, however, were to no avail as the Hammers saw off wave after wave of attack, not letting their determined opponents into their 22. Whilst Steve John and Angus Lean stood out in particularly during this passage of play, it was surprisingly veteran prop Andrew Rogan who would get the turn-over that formally ended the Hampstead effort. Asked about this uncharacteristic jackal after the game, Rogan confessed that he had actually stopped for a breather and bent over to tie his shoelaces when play caught up with him and the ball fell into his hands.
It was during this Hampstead period of attack that soon-to-be super sub Cillian Waldron, replacing the soft shouldered inside centre Will Smith (DM me about gym, mate), sustained a knock to the head that would awaken the beast…
After forcing their way into the Hampstead 22 courtesy of some impressive carrying, the Hammersmith pack let the pretty boys do the rest. Scrum half Ross Anderson planted a sweet seed, like a carrot farmer in Spring, into the hands of Waldron who threw a dummy pass to Sam Purvis before crashing over himself for the bonus point try. Carolan added nothing extra, of course. Hampstead picked up a yellow card for repeated defensive infringements in the build-up. 12-28.
A relatively quiet 5 minute period ensued, with nothing coming of a few Hampstead efforts. The only real highlight for the spectators came courtesy of Sam Purvis. Defending one-on-one against the Hampstead winger, he confidently pointed to the space on his inside, inviting him to take the space; the Hampstead winger accepted the invitation, turning Purv inside out in the process. This washing machine motion was probably the main reason Purv’s match shirt was so clean at the end of the game. Fortunately, a Hampstead knock-on spared any further blushes.
Hammersmith then went back on the offensive, backs and forwards combining well under the stewardship of Joe C. The pressure ultimately proved too much for Hampstead, as they went down to 13 men after a second yellow card for a shoulder charge to the head of fullback Taylor Williams. Alex Hart was quick to point out after the game that he could quite easily have been high tackled also.
Playing against only thirteen men and with their opposition tiring, the Hammers turned up the heat, adding a penalty (12-31) and going in search of a fifth try deep in the opposition half. Josh McClean, improvising at scrum half, fed James Lo who basketball passed it to Joe C, who put Cillian Waldron through for his second try of the game. At the time of writing, Cillian had just finished putting the ball down. 12-36
The dying moments of the game saw ever-lively scrum half Ross Anderson try to extend the lead further, running through an enormous gap towards the try line. Unfortunately, his ego was writing cheques his wheels couldn’t cash and he was quickly closed down by their tighthead prop to bring the game to a close. The contest finished 12-36.
All in all, an impressive showing from Hammersmith & Fulham who now have 8 wins from 9 games, keeping the pressure on London Welsh at the top of the table.
All eyes on their next game against Chiswick at Hurlingham Park…
MOM: Josh McClean
Tin Man: Also Josh
Ben Hatton: Still single
A cold crisp winters day as Hammersmith 3s travelled to suburbia to face Harlequins amateurs. Despite the long journey and the cold weather the boys were up for it as the benefits of Dry Jan were clear and meant the numbers of hangovers were at an all-time low. James Lalor got his DoD performance off to a good start with a dislocated finger in the warm up, with the finger clicked back in place, Captain Cook got the boys going with a much needed warm-up.
Hammers were out the blocks quickly with a brutal break from Ed Miller but when he was tackled on the 22 meter line just short but Mike Cook was on hand with a great supporting line to run it in for the final metres with the ball. The boys knew the next task was to secure the ball and exit our 22 but with a few handling errors due to cold hands and a miss match in the backline Harlequins went over for a soft try. Hammersmith quickly bounced back with a solid forwards try from a catch and drive lineout five meters out the maul was unstoppable and Captain cook was at the back to dot down his easiest try of the game. A line out on the half way line came quickly off the top and a cracking move from the backs involving both wingers with Billy Wickham just being stopped short of the line and Cook again was on hand in support to dive over from the 5. This ensured Cookie managed to seal the easiest hat-trick the game has ever seen inside 40 minutes ! The Hammers knew this was going to be there game but it didn’t help when James Lalor then nailed down his DoD status by making a low tackle and bouncing off to then throw his arms around the attacker’s head/neck and receive a soft yellow card! The lads managed to hold off conceeding any more try before half time
Half Time 7 – 21
A comfortable half time score and a couple of substitutions meant a bit of disarray let Harlequins get the first score of the second half or so they thought only for there 12 to decide to just keep running forgetting you have to put the ball down before the dead-ball line, an easy let off for the hammers. Hammers started going through the gears and a great break by Jack MacGreogor resulted in and another interesting referee call gave Hammersmith a penalty deep inside their own 22. Then in his own word number 9 Nick Emmett “quick tapped and split through the defence, with just the 15 to beat stood him up with a chahoo goose step and glided past to dot down in the corner.”
Then some cold hands and poor tackling let Harlequins back into the game when their prop looking number 10 danced through our defence to touch down a try the whole team was disappointed about.
The old guard of Steve Harris and Ed Clark rallied the boys and a sharp queen ball by Hammersmith on their own 22 gave Cookie his final try and a try he deserved the most, when he broke through the inital tackle and was free with only the fullback to step, he somehow managed to run the length of the pitch. This was followed by tries from Tom Mohan, Ryan Grey and a 90m intercept try from Shagga to run the length of the pitch on his return to action for months.
Chad Buchner put the final nail in the Harlequins coffin when he got the ball on their 22m line and handed off their Fullback with a choke slam straight out of WWE and sprint to touch down under the posts.
Strong performance all around and a well-deserved win!
Final Score: 59 – 14
MoM: Tom Mohan
DoD: James Lalor