With last years big rivals for the league Tring unable to field a team, fixtures secretary Roy Irwin managed to pull a new opposition from his hat. Up stepped Malden from the Essex Leagues. A potential "banana skin" of a game it would have been easy for Hackney to lose the momentum of recent weeks. The warm up was a little lack lustre to start with but two injuries to squad members in the warm up showed they were up for it.

Hackney started well with Malden's return from the kick off being caught on the gallop by full back JP and an intelligent kick scythed into the corner to apply early pressure. They kept the screw turning early and following a battle at the ruck, centre field on the 22 the ball came out quickly from Captain and Scrum half Luke Hearn through the centres hands to JP coming into the line. Johnny O'Connor held width and depth well and an accurate spin pass found him close to the touch line. Head down and the corner was his.... O'Connor thought otherwise though, stepped inside, and by luck or by judgement three cover tacklers breezed by and left the try line open for an early touch down.

Malden were feeling the heat early on and when their young fly half limped off after 15 minutes things looked no brighter. Spring Hill echoed to yells of "six points" as the Hackney scrum transferred training ground learning to the game. The scrum was solid and when Malden collapsed one, a quick tap penalty saw good support play and Pete Walsham crossing for another score.

When the ball came out Hackney backs were sharp and another try for O'Connor looked likely after a strong run and loop around from Sam Willoughby. With the line at his mercy O'Connor suffered a Devon Loch moment when his feet went from under him in full flight. He recovered well though to pop the ball up to support players and sustained pressure saw Arif Saad score under the posts demonstrating a great line and and bags of pace.

Just before half time a lapse of concentration, quick feet and a mismatch in midfield saw Malden score and convert but the half had been Hackney's. The second half was a different game and was played between the two 22's. Ruck after ruck saw fierce competition and turnover by the Malden forwards and Hackney were guilty of sending runners on lone missions far too often. Pretty it was not. There was plenty of heart though and the pack soldiered on with Ollie Relph, Fernanado and the rest of the eight aggressive in contact. The Malden try line was crossed just the once in the second half by replacement Guy Halfhead, they provided a stiffer test in the second half - a case in point being Halfhead brought down by a great head on tackle by a brave Malden full back. The trademark Maori side-step not producing the usual result.

The game ended 33- 7 and the banana skin was comprehensively evaded. Matt Hanton controlled well from 10 and in parts Hackney looked very good - things to improve on for sure but momentum remains...