With Hampstead being our 'friendliest' of rivals, this was always going to be a hard-fought match and with both sides having props for kickers, it was always going to be a lively one to watch! The Gladies were keen to build on their previous victory against Maidenhead a few weeks earlier.

The game started off with a strong run from the Hackney line to force pressure on Hampstead. This quickly reaped results with quick ball coming from flyhalf Sophie Campbell and centre Genevieve Barr, across the back line for winger Jennifer Close to score her first ever try for Hackney in the corner. Good start!

Hampstead strong in the breakdown, and really pressurising the Hackney forwards managed to gain some distance consistently over the first half, but with persistent tackling and great double-teaming, Hampstead were unable to penetrate our defence. Winger Rachel Middleton tore away with the ball, racing down the pitch to score a try under the posts. Her first one for the team too, a game for new players indeed! With that try converted, we were looking strong with 2 tries to our belt in the first half. However, Hackney knew that a lot of hard work was going to be required to secure that victory.

The second half was a more mixed response, as Hampstead brought on fresh legs and Hackney were running against the wind. Hackney started conceding penalties, and Hampstead managed to get a try in the corner bringing the score up to 12-7. Hackney responded in kind, with Winger Anna Sereni and Centre Lydia Meeson making some brilliant tackles and the forwards Juliette Van Wessem, Samantha Leetch and Emma Middleton carrying the ball strongly into contact with Sarah Lawrence and Kat Barber showing great supporting play. Our defensive line was communicating and working together brilliantly and their prop was kicking the ball away straight into fullback, Amy Hague's hands. Hague recovered every high ball brilliantly and penetrated the defence over and over again with her shifts in direction and pace. Our third try came by brilliant team work between Campbell and Captain and Scrumhalf Charley Miller, the Gladies halfbacks working in unison to get round Hampstead's defence.

I suppose I should mention that both Meeson and flanker Felicity Auer got yellow carded and sent off the pitch for heroic...er...high tackles. Not to be encouraged.

A final try from Hampstead, who tore away down the wing didn't dent the delight on Hackney faces at the end of the game. With 3 league victories under our belt (ok, one team conceded but it still counts!), we're now second in the league and ready to avenge our earlier season losses.

Man Of The Match, Emma Middleton, who will be sorely missed when she leaves for the Caribbean and hotter shores on Friday. She is truly the spirit of the team, and has been a fantastic captain since she helped start the women's side a little over a year ago. She has tackled like a demon and used her legs with surprising pace and provided plenty of laughs in socials over the year. Emma - we love you and we hope you have an amazing time. We hope you won't forget us with the leaving gifts we gave you. Rachel Middleton also deserves a mention with a fantastic game yesterday, and having another Middleton in the midst means that we're unlikely to escape the Middleton enthusiasm and ferocity both on the pitch and off the pitch.

Can't decide if that's a good or bad thing.