On a day that East London's transport system threatened to come completely off the rails, the Hackney Gargoyles conspired to mirror it.


Despite East London's position (the equivalent of two leagues above and an unbeaten start to their season) Hackney felt confident going into the match. Fresh off the back of two good wins and an enforced week off, 21 players made up a Gargoyles squad keen for another victory.



Regrettably Hackney failed to translate their ambition into actions on the pitch. From the kick off East London carried the ball powerfully in the loose, were aggressive at the ruck and found space out wide. Hackney conceded the first try within three minutes when first up tackles were missed forcing the Hackney defence back inside and leaving yards of space out wide for one of their two giant wings to gallop over the try line. It was obvious Hackney needed to be on the top of their game to leave West ham with the desired result.


Despite performing in patches the Gargoyles did not find their game and against a well drilled, intelligent side were soon down by two tries. Once again holes were punched in the defense; the East London open side was everywhere - a trait he would continue throughout the game. This was a game though; Hackney showed good spirit and ambition with ball recycled by good work in the forwards and Jeff Moore at Standoff intelligently mixing the attacking play with kicks to space turning the opposition and moving the visitors deep into opposition territory. Repeated offences around the ruck saw Hackney awarded a kick 30 metres out which Moore narrowly failed to convert.


Two good hits in ten seconds by outside centre Arif thwarted an almost certain third try but simply delayed the inevitable; for a description of the third try see the first two...



Half time saw Hackney down on the scoreboard, failing to secure their lineout and being outmuscled at the breakdown. With Steve Nichols already, on replacing an injured Guy Halfhead at Inside Centre. Further changes were initiated in the hope that fresh legs could change the dynamic.



The second half was better in terms of points conceded. With East London camped on the Hackney line for a ten minute period they were repelled time and time again by some big hits. East London's bruising pack prevented from grounding the ball three times before they finally got it down. It was courageous defense from Hackney - if only they could have instilled this work ethic further up the pitch a result may have been theirs.



Hackney did have their moments in attack, with forwards Ben Scott Robinson and Alex Bobin carrying powerfully in the loose and Moore, Nichols and fellow replacement centre Dan Aylward gaining the upper hand in the centre of the field with some good angles and intelligent off loads. East London were forced to over-commit on a number of occasions and if Hackney had chosen the correct options and gone the right way at the right time two, possibly three certain tries were there for the taking. Then the curse of the centre struck again. When Steve Nichols was tackled by two of the opposition his knee twisted awkwardly underneath him. It was obvious to all it was a serious injury, carried from the field to a waiting ambulance. Within two minutes Alyward followed him off the pitch with a recurrence of his shoulder injury. Further reshuffling ensued when Moore turned his ankle over and Tim Cox moved into stand off for the last 15 minutes.



East London scored further break away tries before Hackney laid claim to the final ten minutes. And they did own this period. Time and again Hackney powered forward in pursuit of points. With a desperation to win and secure the ball that would have served them well earlier they started to boss the ruck. East London continued to lie on the ball and stop quick ball, and the referee continued to penalise them. Tap and go - whistle, tap and go - whistle, tap and go - whistle - the referee admitted had it been a league game more than one yellow would have been shown. But Hackney did not give up and after a bruising period during which it seemed like every Hackney player threw himself at the wall that was East London, Scrum Half Luke Hearn burrowed his way through for a score. The final whistle blew as the conversion sailed through the posts and Hackney had something to take away with them.

MOTM: Steve Nichols.