Another sunny warm afternoon saw Hackney battle Bishop.s Stortford, refereeing incidents & more to the point, themselves for the first half. The tone was set from the kick off when the uber reliable Matt Hanton failed to make the required 10 metres, giving a scrum & possession to Stortford.

Dogmatic defence followed & Hackney caused the opposition to knock on, which again resulted in a scrum. However lack of discipline on the engage gave the ball back to Stortford & another period of defence was called for. The opening 20 minutes were played almost entirely within Hackney.s 22. Whenever Hackney made choices they were executed poorly & with lack of thought. The start of the second quarter saw a vast improvement in patience at the scrum & better core skills. On the half hour mark Hackney launched a promising attack on the right wing getting to within 25 metres of the opposition try line, only to find the referee had pulled up 30 metres away with a hamstring injury. A 20 minute delay was then endured whilst a replacement was located (from Stortford.s ranks). The game was restarted with a scrum to Stortford, puzzling? There followed another 10 minute period akin to the opening 20.

Half time saw Newton Mills replace Jon Williams at loose head & Uzo come on at 8. It was also decided that Hackney had come to play rugby & the second half was a time to prove this.

Stortford.s kick off also failed to go 10 metres giving the advantage back to Hackney. The pack by half time had got the upper hand at the scrum which allowed Uzo to control the ball & within seconds make a blistering run through flailing defence & pass (yes, Uzo passed) to Newton in close support 5 metres from the line for the opening score at 42 minutes. Scrum dominance was now the order of the day but precision in the loose was still lacking. Stortford & Hackney exchanged periods of attack & defence with neither coming out on top. At 60 minutes Stortford attempted a bullocking run up the blind side 25 metres out, which was snuffed out by cover tackling into touch. There was an exchange of handbags on the touchline & suddenly Blair was yellow carded, puzzling? Now with 14 men, Hackney rode a reinvented opposition scrum & more attacks with ease, eventually working their way into Stortford.s 22 where Matt Hanton dropped a sublime goal, putting some daylight between the teams. Blair duly returned to the pitch & scrum dominance returned. Strangely enough Stortford.s tight head was replaced at this point along with 2 others by some sweaty looking players (oddly enough the 4th team fixture had just ceased). The scrums now became uncontested as none of the replacements were front row, puzzling? (Must have a quick look at my rule book). Within minutes Uzo found himself with a yellow card for leading with his knees whilst running strongly towards Stortford.s line, puzzling? Despite a second period with 14 men facing them, Stortford failed to make inroads & actually shipped 2 scores in the last 4 minutes.

It was with great regret that I failed to catch up with the replacement referee post match & thank him for stepping into the breach.

Another kicking master class from Matt Hanton; this week with a 100% result.

MOTM : Glen Prowse. He has willingly put himself forward to learn the art of the 3 & did not fail in any other duties around the field, despite a tough learning curve in the first 20 minutes.