When the losing team's match report starts with "the final score wasn't a true reflection of the game" do you ever believe them?

I hope so. Because on Sunday the Gladies went down 32 - 5. But the final score...

Hackney have been on a steep learning curve in their first season in the RFUW structure, and playing their first ever cup fixture against a Harlow side 2 leagues above them promised to be another stern test. Yet as the whistle blew and the game began it was the upstarts that started with their heads up. The ball barely stopped moving for the first 5 minutes. Gladies picked and went, passed and ran, a blur of 15 players in unison. As they entered Harlow's 22 the ball was moved from one side of the pitch to the other, and prop Astrid Bjorvig picked and went, three players hanging off her as she scored the games first try.

From the restart Harlow came back at Hackney hard. And for the rest of the game the Gladies were on the back foot. At times they threatened, but mistakes against a team playing at Harlow's level are punished in a way the side aren't used to, and too often pressure-relieving breaks were spoilt by a dropped ball and Hackney were back on their line defending. Yet for an hour they kept Harlow subdued, remaining within a score. In the pack Gill Thurlow and Lydia Walker made a huge number of huge hits. While out wide Abby Crawford and Anna Sereni stood out when defending and carried strongly on those rare occasions Hackney had the ball. As the final few minutes approached this brave defensive effort had Hackney in contention, still a score away from their opponents, but one high tackle too many saw fly half Sophie Campbell sent to the bin. Harlow's terrific back line was more than 14 tired players could contain and the pressure finally told.

There were a huge number of positives. Not least matching a team two leagues higher for the best part of an hour. Kat Barber at 8 showed how quickly she's getting to grips with the position with some accomplished control at the back of the scrum. Captain Charley Miller embodied the spirit this side has in abundance, keeping heads up and putting hits in. The pack found themselves playing against a more experienced and bigger side, yet by the end the scrum stood strong and the line out was working well. And the back line, while not often given the chance to run, looked dangerous every time they did, while containing opponents who have obviously played for far longer until they finally went a player down. WOTM was split, with Astrid Bjorvig named Forward and centre Abby Crawford as Back. The two Gladies might have been on the losing side, but they made sure they finished winners, absolutely hammering their rivals when the pints were poured and downed.