An eventful opening 10 minutes saw Hackney score from the kick off through Paddy, Matthieu allow his face to be used as a punch bag by his opposite prop & Hackney give away 3 penalties. The action was full on for the first quarter with Hemel scoring at 11 minutes, Jonny O.Connor replying at 16 but with Hackney.s penalty count rising. The game was all square at 38 minutes until Hackney transgressed again allowing a penalty kick in front of the sticks. There were some superb individual skills on display in this half, notably Blake ripping the ball from Hemel following a forearm to the chin, Matthieu stealing loose lineout ball & Arif making a chasing tackle on Hemel.s biggest player. Tackling, discipline & defensive alignment were identified at half time as the issues to be addressed & full of belief Hackney prepared for a competitive second half.

However, Hemel.s coach had made a better job of motivating his side for the next 40 minutes. They had switched into 4 wheel drive whilst Hackney remained stuck in the mire. Hemel.s depth & strength of running exposed our high tackling technique, with metres made across the gain line far too easily. Hemel.s control of the ruck was quicker than Hackney.s resulting in a number of turnovers. Their scrummage should have been a weapon in their armoury but was completely negated by a powerful & determined Hackney 8, who won a couple against the head. The lineout was the usual lottery from both sides but the difference was in open play. Hackney failed to string phases together & also failed to make the most of their tactical kicking, mainly due to poor chasing or lack of pressure on the catcher. Hackney scrambled in defence well but Hemel retained possession & eventually gaps appeared. Hemel scored 3 unanswered tries in this half & the game was beyond rescue. Paddy was a tackle machine throughout this half but paid a heavy price, he caught a stray knee (unintentional) to the jaw which saw him in hospital with 2 fractures to the jaw requiring wiring & bolting. An operation to be carried out on Sunday.

Hackney were beaten by a more organised team who had more belief in themselves. They were also victims of their own ill discipline, with a high penalty count. The return fixture at Springhill should be all the motivation we require.

MOTM : Paddy Walsh. Tackled well, ran all game, did not stop believing in a turnaround. Would be unable to make a speech as he is now more incoherent than usual.