The rain had abstained for the Saturday fixture at Hurlingham Park. Belsize Park were flying high at the top of the league, and so Hammers knew that they had to play at their best to topple the league leaders.
The first twenty of the match was ferocious. Both teams not giving an inch. Hammersmith had a foray into BP’s 22 and returned with 3 points courtesy of Alex Warner’s boot.
Both teams were sticking to their game plans and played wonderful tactical kicking. Both testing their back 3’s to see whose would crack first.
It was to be Hammers, they were pinned back into the corner with a wonderful piece of kicking from BP’s Fly, this led to a knock on and 4 reset scrums. When eventually the ball was released from the 16 forwards battling it out, BP picked and went continually creating momentum for the backs to dive over to dot it onto the line. Converted.
From the restart, a poor chase and BP were back up to the Hammers 22. From a good turnover to a poor clearance kick, BP set a solid maul and drove over to score their second.
3-15 Half time
H&F believed this game was hanging in the balance. Neither side had asserted great dominance and were tussling for control.
However it was to be BP who gained the control in the second half. They came out with explosive pace and meticulous structure, which ground down the Hammers.
A further three tries were scored by BP, with the pick of the bunch being a silky dummying run from the Fly to find support on his inside to put them under the posts.
Hammers fought to the end, continually stealing line out ball and tackling hard. But a hard lesson was to be taught by BP, structure and consistent effort is the key in London 2 North West. Hammers cannot work hard in quarters; it has to be for the entire game.
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Hammers 3s were looking to turn the tide, following 5 defeats from 6 league games with their home fixture vs HAC 3’s.
The Hammers kicked off with the wind at their backs, and had the better of the early exchanges camping in the opposition 22. The hammers worked opportunities down the right flank three times, only to be denied by HAC’s scramble defence on twice and an unfortunate Hammers knock on as the try line beconned.
Not to be denied for long, Hammers forwards continued to make inroads into the HAC defence and repeated assaults of the HAC line resulted in Abe Knight crossing the white wash for what seemed to be the first of many for the Hammers. 5-0 Hammers.
Unfortunately for running Rugby & Hammers fans the game then descended into an arm wrestle, with the Hammers giving away a mountain of penalties for ruck and maul infringements and offsides. This indiscipline allowed HAC back into the game eventually scoring from a line out Maul. 5-7.
Going behind revitalised the Hammers, and a barn storming run from Gael carved open the HAC defence then put away Henry Wigzell to put Hammers back in front 10-7.
As the half drew to a close, Hammers indiscipline once again put the team under pressure as more ruck infringements resulted in a yellow for Sam Jacobs. Hammers maul defence however held strong and saw the half out 10-7.
The second half, was a tight affair for the first 20 minutes with a HAC penalty the only score 10-10. The final 20 minutes the game once again came to life, with HAC pressing the line and taking a quick tap penalty 5 out from Hammers line Parko got binned for not retreating. (As an old man he should really have know better!)
Once again down to 14 men the Hammers defence held strong until the final minutes of the sin binning when a cross field kick was collected by the HAC wing to take the lead 10-17.
Back to a full compliment and with all the “finishers” on the pitch, Hammers pressed for an equalising score. A combination of strong running upfront and dazzling footwork from Tom “hamstrings” Hamnett put the Hammers in striking distance of the HAC line. Unfortunately the opportunity was lost as a result of a line out mix up.
Keen to make amends the forward pack won the ball against the head of the following scrum, 3 phases later a strong inside line from Rob Fox scoring under the sticks put Hammers level 17-17. A frantic 5 minute period at the end of the game from both sides ended with the ball thumped into touch to end the game.
Not a win, but not a defeat. Hammers 3s walked away with lots of positives and some technical areas to work on around the ruck.
Man of the Match: Jake Little
Tin Men (in order of offence): Steve Harris (constant reminders for arriving on time to the group, only to arrive 20mins late), Joe Slater (injured in warm up), Harry Campbell-Lamerton (knock on over the line), Sam Jacobs & Tom Parkinson (Yellow Cards).