A disappointing performance from Hackney following the Christmas break was rescued in the 84th minute by James Hardwick's nerves of steel which enabled him to knock over a twenty yard penalty following a brilliant 30 phase march from their own 22 deep into Kilburn territory.

The first half was characterised by basic mistakes as rustiness took it's toll as Hackney did the basics well but failed to find the clinical pass despite dominating territory. Injuries also took their toll with Neil Cunningham limping off meaning Charlie Davis made his second positional move of the match to 9, having also suffered a neck injury which meant he was unable to scrummage, leaving Paddy Walsh to make his front row debut for the club. A missed penalty from each side looked to be the only action of note in the first period before a quick tap penalty on the 5m line caught Hackney napping meant Kilburn grabbed the advantage on the scoreboard in the 39th minute.

Just after half time Hackney spurted into life and began playing some of the free flowing rugby that has become the norm at Spring Hill. Will Bowers provided some great support running, and Andy Pilkington made an excellent 20 yard break. However Kilburn brought their best defence, tackled with outstanding relish and piled people into the rucks to prevent Hackney crossing the try line. A penalty was knocked over by Hardwick following repeated infringements by Kilburn, although it should have been accompanied by a yellow card which was threatened by the referee, but never dished out.

The scrummaging was greatly improved as Walsh got up to speed with his new position and Dom Beno forced Kilburn to replace their tighthead due to having him twisting left and right. Twice Hackney turned down kicks at the post in the Kilburn 22, and both times were left to rue their decision making as Hardwick and Walsh knocked on gilt edged opportunities with the line beckoning. Kilburn offered a threat with their hard running, but the new centre partnership of James Rowbottom and Dan Aylward defended brilliantly out wide, while Ollie Hart and John Tully made sure quick ball was difficult to come by in the rucks.

Hackney were staring down the barrel as opportunities went begging and despite lengthy periods of pressure could not find a way through. With a lineout just outside the Hackney 22, and time practically up, Kilburn knew all they needed to do was hold onto the ball and get it out. A throw to the first man meant Hackney couldn't contest, but somehow the ball was turned over and the great escape was a possibility. Over the next 4 mins every Hackney player showed brilliant decision making, great discipline and composure that had been missing previously. Despite suffering severe cramp, Alex O'Hara took the ball into contact some six times, and always broke the line which gave the attack a focal point to march 60 yards. Eventually Kilburn were being stretched and their captain lay on the wrong side to slow the ball, and to add to the pain of the shoeing inflicted by Jon Williams the referee gave Hardwick the chance to win the match. Having knocked on over the try line 10 minutes earlier, Hardwick went from zero to hero as he slotted the penalty straight as a die and it never looked like missing. Great credit to Kilburn who over the course of the two matches this year have only been two points worse off than Hackney, but the winning habit is ingrained in Hackney and it showed.

Vintage performance it was not, but epic win it certainly was and the side showed great character and skill to hang in there and execute when it mattered. Next week Hackney will welcome London Welsh to Spring Hill in a top of the table clash, with Welsh undoubtedly looking for a win following their loss this week which enabled Hackney to make ground on the top two.

MotM: Will Bowers - non-stop tackling, support and scrapping for possession - deserved the opportunity to come into the starting XV and grabbed it with two hands.